The Australasian Grebe is a small duck-like water bird found in freshwater wetlands. It can be seen swimming singly or in twos on farm dams.
The Australasian Grebe is a small waterbird with two distinct plumage phases. The non-breeding plumage of both the male and female is dark grey-brown above and mostly silver-grey below, with an off-white oval patch of bare skin at the base of the bill. During the breeding season, both sexes have a glossy-black head and a rich chestnut facial stripe that extends from just behind the eye through to the base of the neck. At this time, the patch of skin at the base of the bill becomes pale yellow and more noticeable. When approached, Australasian Grebes usually dive under water. Their average size is 24cm.
The Australasian Grebe is found throughout Australia and throughout the Pacific region. It is also self-introduced to New Zealand.
The Australasian Grebe is found in freshwater ponds or small waterways.
The Australasian Grebe builds floating nests —a platform made from green aquatic vegetation — into which bluish-white eggs are laid, sometimes by two females. When the young hatch they have striped down and proportionally oversized lobed feet, and are able to swim almost immediately. Not becoming independent for eight weeks after hatching, they follow their parents about, and they sometimes nestle onto the back of a swimming adult to rest.
Food consists mainly of small fish and water insects. Prey is normally caught during deep underwater dives, but some are taken on the surface. Like other grebes, the Australasian Grebe is often seen eating its own feathers and feeding them to its young. This behaviour is thought to help prevent injury from any sharp fish bones that are swallowed.
The Australasian Grebe may raise up to three successive broods in a season. The pale blue eggs (4-5 eggs) are laid in a nest which is a floating mound of vegetation, normally anchored to a submerged branch or reed. The striped downy chicks are able to swim from birth and are cared for by both parents. When parents start breeding again, however, the young of the previous brood are driven away. Breeding season is from September to January in the south, and January to April in the north.