Slavonian Grebes aka Horned Grebes

The Slavonian Grebe, Podiceps auritus, is a member of the grebe family of water birds. It is known in North America as the Horned Grebe.

Folk names of this bird include Devil-diver, hell-diver, pink-eyed diver, and water witch.

The Slavonian Grebe is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.


It is a small grebe at 31-38 cm (12″-15″) long with a 46-55 cm wingspan.

Unmistakable in summer, the male’s plumage includes a black head with brown puffy earlike tufts along the sides of its face. It shows a deep red neck, scarlet eyes, and a small, straight black bill tipped with white. It rides high in the water.

Horned or Slavonian Grebe, Podiceps auritus (non-breeding plumage)

Horned or Slavonian Grebe, Podiceps auritus (breeding plumage)

Breeding / Nesting

Slavonian Grebe breeds in vegetated areas of freshwater lakes across Europe and Asia. It also breeds in remote inland parts of the United States and much of Canada. Most birds migrate in winter to the coast.

During this time, this small grebe is mainly white with a sharply defined black cap.

Breeding / Nesting

Like all grebes, it nests on the water’s edge, since its legs are set very far back and it cannot walk well. Usually two eggs are laid, and the striped young are sometimes carried on the adult’s back.

Diet / Feeding

Slavonian Grebe is an excellent swimmer and diver, and pursues its fish prey underwater.

Horned or Slavonian Grebe, Podiceps auritus (non-breeding plumage) taking off

Calls / Vocalizations

During breeding, the male’s call is heard as an odd, striking series of loud croaks and chattering notes followed by prolonged shrieks.

Photo of author

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