A particularly large grebe, the red-necked grebe (Podiceps grisegena) is a stocky species, with a long neck and a long, straight, robust bill (2) (3). The upperparts are dark brownish-black and the wings are dark, with two prominent white patches (2). In breeding plumage, the red-necked grebe has a black cap that extends below the eye, with a slight crest and a large, distinctive pale grey check patch that has whitish margins and extends upward to behind the eye (2) (4). The front of the neck and the upper breast are deep chestnut, becoming paler on the belly, while the sides and flanks are greyish.
In non-breeding plumage, the red-necked grebe is somewhat duskier, with a grey-black cap, grey patches on the ear coverts and a white crescent-shaped patch, which curves up from the white chin and throat to behind the ears. The upperparts remain brownish-black, but the striking chestnut colour of the neck is replaced with white or light grey at the front, blending to dark grey-black on the back of the neck (2) (4).
Unlike many other grebes, the red-necked grebe has dark irises rather than red, and the bill is black with some yellow at the base (2) (4). The legs and feet are black (3). Males are typically larger than females, although the male and female are otherwise similar in appearance. Juvenile red-necked grebes have a brownish-red neck and two prominent diagonal black bands on the sides of the head (2) (5) (6). Immature red-necked grebes are similar to the non-breeding adult but have even more grey in the plumage, with some reddish-brown or brown tones on the front of the neck (2) (5).
The red-necked grebe has been separated into two subspecies: Podiceps grisegena grisegena, which occurs in Europe and west Asia, and Podiceps grisegena holboelli, which occurs in east Asia and North America. North American and east Asian red-necked grebes are larger than their counterparts in Europe and western Asia, while the European and west Asian grebes have a darker back, cheeks and neck, as well as a less yellow bill (2).
- Length: 43 - 56 cm (2)
- 0.8 - 1.6 kg (2)