Wildlife in Italy: Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis, Pallas 1764

Wildlife in Italy: Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis, Pallas 1764

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Systematic classification and distribution

Class: Birds
Order: Podicipediformi
Family: Podicipidi
Kind: Tachybaptus
Species: T. ruficollis, Pallas 1764

Sedentary and migratory species; it nests in the temperate belt of Europe and Asia and winters in Africa and in the Mediterranean regions. In Italy it reproduces with a population of a few thousand couples, but it is also common as a migrant and winter visitor.
To nest it frequents freshwater wetlands, even of limited extension, bordered by emerging marsh vegetation, generally below 500 meters above sea level. During wintering it is also found in brackish waters, at sea and in urban ponds.

Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis Pallas 1764 (photo Emanuele Natali

Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis Pallas 1764 (photo Claude Ruchet

Little Grebe (photo Alessio Bartolini)

Distinctive characters

Length: 23 cm
Weight: about 200 grams
Wingspan: 41 cm

In winter it is reddish brown in color, with a white belly; in summer it has a very dark back, with part of the head and neck reddish brown (hence the adjective ruficollis), and a blackish belly with silver reflections; at the height of the goiter it is dark brown; characteristic is the clear area at the base of the beak.


Its call is a strong trill, often prolonged; rather shy, avoid open water.
It lives and nests in ponds, swamps and dead waters.
The nest, made of grass and reeds, is as large as a plate and floats on the water.It feeds on insects, larvae, small crustaceans, tadpoles and small fish.
Mating and nest building take place in early spring. The eggs (on average 4-6) are hatched for 19/25 days by both parents.
The young leave the nest after 45/48 days.

Video: Little Grebe Bird Call Bird Song (August 2022).