The Hoary-headed Grebe takes its name from the silvery-white streaking on its black head. It is classified as a vagrant but may well be on the way towards colonising New Zealand as many other Australian birds have done before.
Sharing a similar size and build, when in non-breeding plumage, the Hoary-headed Grebe is often confused with the New Zealand Dabchick, Poliocephalus rufopectus, and the Australasian Grebe, Tachybaptus novaehollandiae, but it can be distinguished by its dark crown that extends below the eye. It also has a greater tendency to fly off rather than dive when approached.
Grebes are aquatic specialists, with lobed, rather than webbed, toes which propel and steer them underwater. Their tails are a vestigial tuft only and their large feet are set well back, making them efficient swimmers but clumsy on land.
Other common names: —
Australian vagrant bird
28 cm., 250 g., similar to NZ dabchick in size and habits, with silver streaked head.
Where to find: —
May be found on small bodies of freshwater such as sand–dune lakes and lagoons and larger inland lakes with shallow, sheltered inlets. It also uses “artificial” habitats such as farm ponds and dams and oxidation ponds.
Credit for the photograph: —
Illustration description: —
Birds of Australia, 1848, John Gould
Heather, B., & Robertson, H., Field Guide to the
Birds of New Zealand, 2000.
Page date & version: —
Tuesday, 20 May 2014; ver2009v1