Belongs to: grebes and divers

Compare with: red-necked grebe

Great crested grebe Podiceps cristatus

Best time to see: all year

Key facts

Largest British grebe, famous for its courtship display

Nest on inland lakes and rivers; joined by northern birds in winter and seen also on estuary and coast

Almost exterminated in 19th century because its feathers were used to decorate women's hats


Male has black cap and prominent black and russet head plumes when breeding; female has black cap with white neck; 48 cm

Swims on surface and dives for fish, often for long periods

Flight is laboured but direct


In courtship, pairs dance and posture together and then jointly build the nest, a floating mound of vegetation

One or 2 broods of 3–5 white eggs, April–July, incubated by both parents, changing place every few hours

After hatching, chicks are often carried on the back of one parent while the other brings food

© unknown

© David Harrison