This post is the third in my Grebe series and our subject today is the Red-necked Grebe. While the Western and Clarkes Grebes are larger in size, the Red-necked Grebe is the third largest of North American Grebes. The Red-necked Grebe migrates short distances and winters along the East and West coasts where it gathers in large flocks. Breeding plumage is characterized by a dark body, red neck, white cheeks, and black crown. Juveniles and adults in non-breeding plumage are an overall grayish-brown. Like other Grebes, they are excellent divers and can maneuver well under water because their legs are located far back along their body similar to a Common Loon. They dive for food and usually eat fish, crustaceans, aquatic insects, and some mollusks and amphibians. The best time to spot one of these birds in our area is during the spring migration when the birds are passing through on their way to their breeding grounds. Timing varies, but start looking as soon as the ice starts receding and into May.
No clear trend in population numbers. Susceptible to contaminants, such as organochlorines and heavy metals, that accumulate in tissues of prey species. Habitat loss for agriculture, roads, and development is also a threat. Listed as Threatened in Wisconsin. Otherwise no official status.