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Grebes and divers

Great crested grebeGreat crested grebe Grebes and divers (known as loons in North America) are duck-like diving birds. Both use their feet as paddles as they pursue their quarry below the water's surface. They are mostly freshwater species, found in estuaries, lakes and ponds, but some kinds fly to spend winters in coastal waters. The two families are not related; grebes are thought to be more closely related to flamingos.

Grebes courtingGrebes courting


Before they mate, grebes take part in elaborate courtship dances. They appear to trot across the water side by side, with their wings held back and their elegant necks curved upwards. After mating, the grebe couples set about building their nests. Grebes build floating nests, anchored by weeds in the lake floor. They make them close together, forming a large raft where the eggs are safe from land predators. Pairing bonds may only last a single season.

Adult grebes sometimes eat their own feathers, then feed them to their young. The feathers form a felt lining that protects the grebe’s digestive tract from sharp fish bones.

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