Least Grebes

The Least Grebe, Tachybaptus dominicus, is the smallest member of the grebe family of water birds. It occurs in the New World from the southwestern USA and Mexico south to Chile and Argentina, and also on Trinidad, Tobago, the Bahamas and Greater Antilles.

It lacks the chestnut colouring on the neck of the four Old World species in the same genus, and has formerly been placed in at least three other genera.

This bird builds a floating nest of vegetation anchored to the bottom in open water to 1.5 m deep. The three to six white eggs soon become stained, and are incubated by both adults for 21 days to hatching. The striped young are sometimes carried on the adult’s back.

Least Grebe is 22 cm long and weighs 145 g. Like all grebes, its legs are set far back on the body and it cannot walk well. The breeding adult is brownish grey above with a darker crown.

It has a black throat, brownish chest and pale underparts. It shows a white wing patch in flight. Non-breeding birds are paler with a whitish throat, and immatures are paler and greyer than adults.

This species is an excellent swimmer and diver, and pursues its fish prey underwater. It also eats aquatic insects. The breeding call is like a horse whinnying.

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