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 (9.8–11 in) in length, it is one of the smallest members of the grebe family. (See also Little Grebe, Least Grebe.)
It is an excellent swimmer and diver, and usually dives immediately when alarmed and swims away under water.
Both sexes are dark brown above with a glossy-black head and neck and a striking chestnut facial stripe, extending from behind the eye to the base of the neck. The eye is yellow, with a prominent pale yellow face spot below.
Both parents will raise the chicks however the males will leave after a couple of months when the chicks are about three quarter grown. When the chicks begin to dive and feed themselves (at about 10 weeks) the mother may leave too, although have been known to return soon after, apparently to check on the chicks.
Both are generally duller, with no chestnut stripe, the face spot whiter, and throat and front grey-white. Similar to non-breeding Hoary-headed Grebes, which share a similar range.
They are not strong flyers and will fly distances only at night, presumably to avoid predators. They tend not to leave their home base if there is sufficient food. If disturbed they will dive and re-surface 10-15 metres away rather than fly.