Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis   [Pallas, 1764]

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Order: Podicipediformes Family: Podicipedidae
Number in Britain: 5300 Pairs (Summer)
Conservation Status:
European: Not a species of concern
Global: (Details)
Status in UK: (A)  Migrant/Resident Breeder, Winter Visitor
Subspecies: ruficollis recorded in Britain (of 8 subsp. in the world)
Length: 27 cm Wingspan: 42 cm Weight: M/F: 140 g    
Scientific name from: Gr.: takhos=fast +bapto=to sink under and L.: rufus=reddish + collus=neck
World Distribution: Eurasia (except far north) south to Malaysia, New Guinea and sub-Saharan Africa (Mauritania to s Sudan)
Habitat: Marshes, ponds & lakes
Diet: Mostly, insects, molluscs, tadpoles and small fish at depths to 1m
TitBit: The commonly used 'dabchick' is the only bird name to have the first three letters of the alphabet occurring consecutively, though Shakespeare preferred 'dive-dapper', notably in Venus and Adonis.  
Identification Tips:
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Crossley ID photos

Population and Distribution

Population Trend: BirdTrends   
Regional Trends: England   English Regions
Distribution: Atlas Mapstore   
British Population Size:
    Summer: 5300 Pairs in 2009
    Winter: 16 thousand individuals in 2004/05 - 2008/09
    First Record: Recorded in Medieval times
    Latest Survey: Musgrove, A. et al. (2013) British Birds 106:64-100
    Conservation Status: AMBER because Recent Breeding Population Decline,
   Previous Assessments: 2002-2007 GREEN     1996-2001 GREEN  
   Races of Concern: ruficollis AMBER (Recent Decline)
Habitat Occupancy (in the Breeding Season):
    Most frequent in: Lakes
    Also common in: Ponds
    And found in: Estuaries
Relative Frequency in Each Habitat:
European Population Size:
    Summer: 97 to 164 thousand pairs
Population Assesment from Birds in Europe
Distribution in Europe mapped by the EBCC Atlas
Listed on the Appendices/Schedules of: Bern(II)
Survey Results: Results from BirdTrack

Breeding and Survival

Egg Size: 38 x 26 mm Egg Weight: 13.7 g (of which 8 % is shell)
Number of Nest Records: 75
Clutch Size: 4 - 6 eggs
Incubation: 20- 21 days   by the: Male + Female
Fledging: 44 - 48days as: Precocial, downy
First Clutches Laid: Unavailable
Number of Broods: 2(3)
See trends in Breeding Productivity
Number Ringed: Annual Totals
Adult Survival: No data
Juvenile Survival: No data
Age at First Breeding: 1 year Typical Lifespan: No data
Maximum Recorded Age: 6 years 0 months 23 days (set in 1995)
Read a summary of Ringing Recoveries


Ring Size: E or F
Wing Length Adult: 104.1 ± 2.9 Range 99 - 108 mm, N =55
Juvenile: 102.9 ± 4.1 97 - 108 mm, N =59
Male: Insufficient Data
Female: Insufficient Data
Weight Adult: 224.9 ± 39.25 Range 167.0 - 284.0 g , N =51
Juvenile: 209.4 ± 48.85 119.0 - 276.0 g , N =56
Male: Insufficient Data
Female: Insufficient Data
British Trust for Ornithology (2005) Ringing Scheme data

Other Names

Gaelic: Gobhachan-allt Welsh: Gwyach Fach
Danish: Lille lappedykker Dutch: Dodaars
Finnish: Pikku-uikku French: Grčbe castagneux
German: Zwergtaucher Hungarian: Kis vöcsök
Icelandic: Dverggođi Irish: Spágaire Tonn
Italian: Tuffetto Norwegian: Dvergdykker
Polish: Perkozek zwyczajny Portuguese: Mergulhăo-pequeno
Spanish: Zampullín chico Swedish: Smĺdopping
Local Names: Didapper

For More Information...

Books and Monographs:
   Ogilvie, M. 2003 Grebes of the world Bruce Coleman Books, Uxbridge [598.43 OGI]
   Fjeldsa, J. 2005 The Grebes Oxford University Press [598.43 FJE]
See Also:
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Wikipedia entry
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BirdLife species page
Recent sightings and information from BirdGuides