The Australasian grebe (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) is a small waterbird common on fresh water lakes and rivers in greater Australia, New Zealand and on nearby Pacific islands. At 25–27 cm in length, it is one of the smallest members of the grebe family, along with the least grebe and little grebe.
The Australasian grebe is common on fresh water ponds and small rivers or lakes throughout most of Australia, New Zealand and on the nearby islands. They eat small fish and aquatic insects. In winter, adult birds have dark greyish-brown upperparts and mostly silvery-grey underparts and a white oval patch of bare skin at the base of the bill when in non-breeding plumage. Breeding plumage is considerably brighter: the head is glossy-black with a rufous or chestnut stripe that extends from just behind the eye to the base of the neck, the eye is gold and the patch of bare skin at the base of the bill is pale yellow. Males and females look the same.
When breeding, grebes conceal their floating nests amongst reeds on the surface of the water. The chicks can swim at birth. A peculiar habit that grebes have is they eat their feathers and feed them to their young. Although it is not known with certainty why they do this, several hypotheses have been proposed, including; to prevent injury from swallowed fish bones; to assist with pellet formation; and to reduce their vulnerability to gastric parasites.
This post is part of the Saturday Critters meme,
and also part of the Camera Critters meme,
and also part of the Weekend Reflections meme.