Black-necked grebe

Black-necked Grebe

©Richard Steel/2020VISION

Black-necked grebe

Scientific name: Podiceps nigricollis
Known in America as the 'Eared Grebe' because of its golden ear tufts, the black-necked grebe is a rare nesting bird in the UK. It is easiest to spot around southern coasts in winter.

Species information


Length: 31cm
Weight: 260-360g
Wingspan: 58cm
Average lifespan: est. 7 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Amber under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015). Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

When to see

January to December


Grebes are diving waterbirds, feeding on small fish and aquatic invertebrates. The black-necked grebe is a small grebe, about the same size as a Moorhen. A rare breeding bird, it is also uncommon in winter.

How to identify

In the summer, the black-necked grebe can be distinguished from the Slavonian Grebe by the smaller yellow ear tufts and the black (not red) neck. It looks very similar in its winter plumage, but is a bit darker, has a slightly up-turned bill and a steep forehead.


Breeds in just a handful of places around the country. In winter, it may turn up on the sea or on lakes and reservoirs, particularly in the south.

Did you know?

The black-necked grebe nests at the water's edge because it cannot walk very well - its legs are set quite far back along its body. black-necked grebes are also almost flightless for around nine months of the year, which is much longer than any other flying bird. They do, however, undertake immense migrations to their breeding grounds.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland and coastal nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.