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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Red-necked Grebe -- Podiceps grisegena


RANGE: Breeds from western and central Alaska to south-central Ontario south to St. Lawrence Island, the Alaska Peninsula, central Washington to south-central Minnesota; rarely to southwestern Oregon, northern Michigan, southern Quebec and New Hampshire. Winters along Pacific and Atlantic Coasts and casually along Gulf Coast.

STATUS: Populations decreasing or stable.

HABITAT: Inhabits quiet inland waters on prairies, in woodlands, and extending out onto tundra. Less commonly found on prairie sloughs and marshes, backwaters of rivers, and flooded areas.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Shallow lakes and ponds (rarely less than 10 acres per pair) with at least some emergent vegetation.

NEST: Usually a solitary nester although sometimes nests in loose colonies. Constructs an anchored floating nest on water 2 to 3 feet deep within or near edge of emergent vegetation such as cattails, sedges, rushes, and sometimes bushes. Sometimes builds nest on a muskrat house.

FOOD: Dives and feeds in water at or near the bottom. In marshes and lakes, consumes primarily aquatic insects and some fishes. Also takes land insects, crustaceans, mollusks, aquatic worms, amphibians, and some vegetative matter.

REFERENCES: Chamberlin 1977, Palmer 1962, Tate and Tate 1982, Terres 1980.


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