Australasian Grebe Chicks
Adults: Sexes appear similar. 250 to 270mm in length. Males larger with a longer bill. Sooty coloured above, breast and flanks dappled with grey-brown, belly silky white. Head is glossy black with pear-shaped patch of chesnut extending from eye backwards to side of head and neck. Oval patch of pale yellow bares kin at gape. Wing is sotty with broad white band through middle. Eye is orange-yellow. Bill is black with white tip. Feet are dark green-grey. A non-breeding bird has a duller coloured head, throat and sides of face are white and bill is grey-brown.
Juveniles: Similar to non-breeding adults but with some stripes on head.
Downy young: Grey-black with patch of chestnut on crown and white stipes along sides of head, neck and back.
Voice: Noisy during breeding season while defending territories agains rivals. Both sexes have a fast, loud, high and metallic chittering, each burst of sound is continuous for three to five seconds, vibrating rather than trilling. also gives a harsher version in threat or agression.
The Australasian Grebe can be found through much of Australia as well as islands in the south-west Pacific including New Calendonia and New Guinea. It is classified as common throughout its range. It can be found in sheltered ponds of fresh water and usually nest among water plants. While in breeding plumage the head patterns are quite distinctive, but the winter non-breeding plumage is duller and it is often mistaken for the Hoary-Headed Grebe. The grebe is a poor flyer and often stays in deeper stretches of water among water plants so that it can hide. It feeds mostly at dawn and dusk using deep dives and surface chases to catch food which consists of small fish, pond snails, water insects and crustaceans. Like most grebes, the Australasian Grebe eats its own feathers and also feed them to the young. Breeding season is mostly from August to March but varies with climate and season. Two to three broods are reared per season. The nest is made of floating plant material which is anchored by reeds, usually on a small body of water. Between four and seven eggs are laid per brood and incubation is by both parents for around 21 days. Juveniles stay with parents for some months after fledging.