Friday, October 3, 2014

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) Fengtou piti

(50 cm.) Large; slender neck; conspicuous dark crest; whitish underparts; grayish-brown upperparts.

The Great Crested Grebe is a largest member of the grebe family, “Podicipedidae” found in China. It is about twice the size of the smallest Chinese grebe, the Little Grebe.  It is a handsome waterbird named for the prominent tufts of feathers on the head.

This bird is widespread through China and is found everywhere in the country at some time of year except for the extreme tip of “dongbei” and the western desert regions. In the breeding season it is found throughout the northern half of the country. In winter, it is found along the East Coast from around Dalian south to Hong Kong and inland through most of the southeast.

The Great Crested Grebe can be found in freshwater lakes during the summer breeding season and in freshwater and saltwater environments, especially along the seasides of eastern China in winter.

Like other grebes, this species feeds primarily on fish, but it will also eat crustaceans, insects and frogs. It is capable of deep dives underwater to pursue fish and other aquatic creatures.

All grebes are supremely adapted for life in the water which makes them ill equipped to move on land. For example, a grebe’s leg is set far back near the rump. This adaptation aids in swimming, but makes walking on land a near impossibility. All grebes nest directly beside water to avoid the necessity of land movement.

Several grebe species have elaborate courtship displays, and the Great Crested Grebe is no exception. In the freshwater lakes of their summer breeding grounds, these birds put on a dance performance of great artistry. A pair of birds face each other and lift their bodies out of the water while nodding their heads up and down, often while holding vegetation in their bills.

A typical brood consists of two eggs. When the chicks hatch, each parent will identify a favorite chick and take sole responsibility for the raising that chick.

Photo by Dick Daniels

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