Overview

Comprehensive Description

A small waterbird with two distinct plumage phases. The non-breeding plumage of both the male and female is dark grey-brown above and mostly silver-grey below, with a white oval patch of bare skin at the base of the bill. During the breeding season, both sexes have a glossy-black head and a rich chestnut facial stripe which extends from just behind the eye through to the base of the neck. At this time, the eye becomes darker and the patch of skin at the base of the bill becomes pale yellow and more noticeable. When approached, Australasian Grebes usually dive under water.

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Distribution

Subspecies and Distribution:


    *novaehollandiae (Stephens, 1826) - Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, S New Guinea. *leucosternos (Mayr, 1931) - Vanuatu and New Caledonia. *rennellianus (Mayr, 1931) - Rennell I (Solomon Is). *javanicus (Mayr, 1943) - Java. *timorensis (Mayr, 1943) - Timor. *fumosus (Mayr, 1943) - Sangir and Talaud Is (off NE Sulawesi). *incola (Mayr, 1943) - N New Guinea.


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Physical Description

Diagnostic Description

A small waterbird with two distinct plumage phases. The non-breeding plumage of both the male and female is dark grey-brown above and mostly silver-grey below, with a white oval patch of bare skin at the base of the bill. During the breeding season, both sexes have a glossy-black head and a rich chestnut facial stripe which extends from just behind the eye through to the base of the neck. At this time, the eye becomes darker and the patch of skin at the base of the bill becomes pale yellow and more noticeable. When approached, Australasian Grebes usually dive under water.

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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It is found in freshwater ponds or small waterways, wide range of water bodies. Typically found on small reservoirs at farms. It prefers vegetated shores during breeding.

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Dispersal

Movements are poorly known.

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Trophic Strategy

Food consists mainly of small fish and water insects. Prey is normally caught during deep underwater dives, but some is taken on the surface. Like other grebes, the Australasian Grebe is often seen eating its own feathers and feeding them to its young. This behaviour is thought to help prevent injury from any sharp fish bones that are swallowed.

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

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Reproduction

The Australasian Grebe may raise up to three successive broods in a season. Season prolonged in PNG. The pale blue eggs are laid in a nest which is a floating mound of vegetation, normally anchored to a submerged branch or reed. The striped downy chicks are able to swim from birth and are cared for by both parents. When parents start breeding again, however, the young of the previous brood are driven away.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Tachybaptus novaehollandiae

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There is 1 barcode sequence available from BOLD and GenBank.   Below is the sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen.  Other sequences that do not yet meet barcode criteria may also be available.

AACCGATGATTATTCTCAACCAACCACAAAGATATCGGCACCCTATACCTGATTTTCGGCGCATGAGCAGGCATAGTCGGCACCGCCCTA---AGCCTGCTAATCCGCGCAGAACTAGGCCAACCAGGAACCCTTCTAGGAGAC---GATCAAATCTACAATGTAATCGTCACTGCCCATGCCTTCGTAATAATCTTCTTTATAGTAATACCAATCATAATCGGAGGATTTGGAAACTGACTAGTCCCCCTAATA---ATTGGAGCCCCAGACATAGCATTCCCCCGCATAAACAACATAAGCTTTTGACTCCTTCCCCCGTCCTTCCTACTCCTCCTAGCCTCATCAACAGTCGAAGCCGGAGCAGGCACAGGATGAACCGTATACCCACCACTAGCAGGCAACCTAGCCCACGCTGGTGCCTCAGTAGACCTA---GCCATCTTTTCTCTACACCTAGCAGGCGTATCCTCAATCCTAGGAGCAATTAACTTCATCACAACCGCCATCAACATAAAACCACCAGCCCTCTCACAATACCAAACCCCCCTATTCGTATGATCTGTTCTCATCACTGCCGTCCTACTACTACTCTCACTTCCAGTCCTCGCCGCT---GGCATTACTATACTACTAACAGACCGAAACCTAAATACTACATTCTTTGACCCCGCTGGAGGAGGAGACCCAGTCCTATACCAACACCTATTCTGATTCTTTGGCCACCCAGAAGTCTACATCCTAATCCTCCCTGGCTTCGGAATCATCTCCCATGTGGTAACATACTATGCAGGCAAAAAA---GAACCATTTGGCTACATAGGAATAGTATGAGCCATACTATCAATCGGATTCCTAGGATTCATTGTATGAGCCCACCACATATTCACCGTTGGAATAGACGTAGACACCCGAGCATACTTTACATCCGCCACCATAATCATCGCCATCCCAACCGGCATCAAAGTTTTCAGCTGACTA---GCAACC
-- end --

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Tachybaptus novaehollandiae

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
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Not Threatened.

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Population

Population Trend
Increasing
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Wikipedia

Australasian grebe

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 (9.8–10.6 in) in length, it is one of the smallest members of the grebe family, along with the least grebe and little grebe.

Habits[edit]

The Australasian grebe is an excellent swimmer and diver, and usually dives immediately when alarmed and swims away under water.

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.

Both parents will raise the chicks; however, the male will leave after a couple of months when the chicks are about three-quarters grown. Initially the young will ride on the parents back, hidden between their slightly raised wings. When the chicks begin to dive and feed themselves (at about 10 weeks) the mother may leave too, although mothers have been known to return soon after, apparently to check on the chicks.

The parents are very protective and will try to drive away other water birds (ducks, herons) by confronting them and flapping their wings wildly or using their wings to splash water at the intruders.

Identification[edit]

Breeding plumage[edit]

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.

Non-breeding plumage[edit]

Both sexes 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.

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

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