A worldwide group of diving birds. In the past many different forms have been described of which the majority now has the status of subspecies of about 20 true species. There are six genera. All of them are fresh water breeders, but many of them winter on salt water. Their size varies from the duckling-sized dabchicks to the duck-sized large grebes, of which the North American Western Grebe is the largest. Most northern grebes are dispersive outside the breeding season when most of them stay in coastal waters. Some may  move over considerable distances. Many southern species and subspecies are more or less sedentary.

For this website only some Eurasian grebes were available and these are rather easy to distinguish. Within some genera it might be very difficult to tell species apart. The similar sized dabchicks, for instance, probably have also very similar skulls. Unlike the divers and the alcids grebes have only small and in some species hardly visible depressions for the nasal glands. The lachrimal bones are never fused to the nasal bones.

Genus Aechmophorus

The largest Grebe. Only one species, although there is some discussion about the status of the two subspecies. They may appear to be true species.

  • Western Grebe Aechmophorus occidentalis
    - A. o. occidentalis. British Columubia to Lake Winnipeg and south to southern California.
    - A. o. clarkii. Western USA and Mexican Plateau.

Genus Podiceps

A group of mid-size to large grebes. Some have upturned bills: P. nigricollis, taczanowskii and major. The other have all straight pointed bills of different length.

  • Great Grebe Podiceps major. Southern South America.
  • Red-necked Grebe or Holböll’s Grebe Podiceps grisegena. Two subspecies: 
    • P. g. gisegena. Sout-heast Europe to Scandinavia and west Siberia.
    • P. g. holboellii. Kamchatka, Hokkaido, Mongolia and North America.
  • Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
    • P. c. cristatus. Europe to Mongolia.
    • P. c. infuscatus. East and South Africa.
    • P. c. australis. Australia and New Zealand.
  • Horned Grebe Podiceps auritus
    • P. a. auritus. Iceland to Kamchatka.
    • P. a. cornutus. North America.
  • Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis
    • P. n. nigricollis. Western Europe to Mongolia.
    • P. n. gurneyi. Tropical and southern Africa.
    • P. n. californicus. South-west Canada to Baja California.
    • P. n. andinus. Lakes in temperate Andes.
  • Silvery Grebe Podiceps occipitalis
    • P. o. occipitalis. Tierra del Fuego to about 25° N.
    • P. o. juninensis. Andean regions of northern Chile and Argentine to Peru
  • Junin or Puna Grebe Podiceps taczanowskii. Endemic to lake Junin.
  • Hooded Grebe Podiceps gallardoi. Endemic to South Patagonia

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus.
The Netherlands
Culmen: 48.1 mm; total: 98.5 mm, adult male

Red-necked Grebe or Holböll’s Grebe Podiceps grisegena.
Kornwerderzand, The Netherlands
Culmen:36.0 mm; total: 84.5 mm, unsexed adult

Horned Grebe Podiceps auritus
Kornwerderzand. The Netherlands
Culmen: 22.0 mm; total: 61.0 mm, unsexed adult

Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis.
Location unknown
Culmen: 22.7 mm; total: 59.3 mm, unsexed adult

Genus Podilymbus

Characteristic for the two species of this genus are the stubby white bills with a black vertical band during the breeding season. The Atitlan Grebe is much bigger than de Pied-billed and practically flightless.

  • Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps. Three subspecies: 
    • P. p. podiceps. British Columbia to Quebec, Atlantic coast states to southern Baja California, straggler to Europe.
    • P. p. antillarum. West Indies
    • P. p. antatarcticus. Throughout South America to Argentina.
  • Atitlan Grebe or Giant Grebe Podilymbus gigas. Endemic to Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.

Genus Rollandia

Two small South American grebes.

  • White-tufted Grebe Rollandia rolland. Three subspecies:
    • R. r. rolland. Falkland Is.
    • R. r. chilensis. Lowlands of South America
    • R. r. morrisoni. Highlands Peru and Bolivia.
  • Short-winged Grebe Rollandia micopterum. Restricted to some lakes in Peruvian and Bolivian Andes.

Genus Poliocephalus

Two small species confined to Australia and New Zealand.

  • Hoary-headed Grebe Poliocephalus poliocephalus. Australia, New Zealand.
  • New Zealand Grebe or New Zealand Dabchick Poliocephalus rufopectus. New Zealand.

Genus Tachybaptus

A group of five species with so much variation in plumages that numerous subspecies have been described. Some of these are endemic to a single Island or even one single lake.

  • Little Grebe or Red-throated Dabchick Tachybaptus ruficollis. Nine subspecies:
    • T. r. ruficollis. Europe, north-western Africa, Turkey and Israel.
    • T. r. capensis. Africa south of Sahara, Caicasus, Transcaucasia, Armenia, Egypt, southern Asia to Birma.
    • T. r. iraquensis. Iraq and south-west Iran.
    • T. r. poggei. Central Manchuria, Japan, Taiwan and Malay Peninsula.
    • T. r. philippensis. Some Philippine Islands.
    • T. r. cotabato. Mindanao, Philippine Is.
    • T. r. tricolor. Celebes, Moluccas and northern New Guinea.
    • T. r. vulcanorum. Java, Bali.
    • T. r. collaris. Solomons, New Ireland, New Britain and parts of New Guinea.
  • Australasian Little Grebe, Black-throated Little Grebe or Australian Dabchick Tachybaptus novaehollandiae. Seven subspecies:
    • T. n. novaelhollandiae. New Guinea, Australia and Tasmania, straggler New Zealand.
    • T. n. leucosternos. New Hebrides, New Caledonia.
    • T. n. rennellianus. Renne I., Solomon Is.
    • T. n. javanicus. Java.
    • T. n. timorensis. Timor
    • T. n. fomosus. Great Sangi I., Talaud Is.
    • T. n. incola. Northern New Guinea
  • Madagascar Little Grebe or Madagascar Dabchick Tachybaptus pelzelnii. Endemic to Madagascar.
  • Delacour's Little Grebe or Aloatra Dabchick Tachybaptus rufolavatus. Endemic to Lake Aloatra, Madagascar.
  • Least Grebe, American Dabchick or Least Dabchick Tachybaptus dominicus. Four subspecies: 
    • T. d. dominicus. Bahamas, Greater Antilles, Virgin Is., Cozumel Is.
    • T. d. brachypterus. Southern Texas to Panama.
    • T. d. bangsi. Southern Baja California.
    • T. d. brachyrhynchus. Tropical South America