Australasian grebe

Australasian grebe
Tachybaptus novaehollandiae

Photo by J.J. Harrison (Wikipedia)

Common name:
Australasian grebe (en); mergulhão-pequeno-australiano (pt); grèbe australasien (fr); zampullín australiano (es); Australischer zwergtaucher (de)

Order Podicipediformes
Family Podicipedidae

This species is found throughout  Australia, in southern Indoneasia, New Guinea, the Solomon islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and recently colonized several areas in New Zealand.

These birds are 23-27 cm long and have a wingspan of 39-40 cm. They weigh 100-230 g.

The Australasian grebe is found in various inland wetlands, such as marshes, swamps, ponds, lakes and small reservoirs, preferring shallow areas with floating vegetation. They are found from sea level up to an altitude of 1.000 m.

They feed mostly on small fishes, aquatic insects, spiders, crustaceans and snails, but will also take some seeds and other vegetable matter. They are also known to occasionally eat frogs.

The breeding season of the Australasian grebe is variable and possibly stimulated by flooding. The nest is a small floating platform of vegetable matter, placed among emergent vegetation. The female lays 4-5 pale blue eggs which are incubate by both parents for 23 days. The chicks are able to swim from birth and are cared for by both parents for 8 weeks. They may not yet be able to fly when they become independent. Each pair can raise up to 3 broods per year.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range. The overall population trend is increasing, although some populations may be stable and others have unknown trends, and some of the smaller island populations may be at risk due to habitat changes such as the drainage and exploitation of underground water supplies.

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