Clark's Grebe

Aechmophorus clarkii

A white-faced version of the Western Grebe, the Clark's Grebe formerly was thought to be the same species. Differences in face and bill color keep the two grebes from interbreeding.

Interesting Information

  • First described in 1858, at the same time as the Western Grebe, Clark's Grebe was originally regarded as a distinct species and then as a color phase of the Western Grebe.

  • These two birds are once again considered separate species because they nest side by side with very little interbreeding.

  • A group of grebes are collectively known as a "water dance" of grebes.


Adult Description

  • Medium-sized waterbird.
  • Black back and cap.
  • White face.
  • White neck and underside.
  • Long neck.
  • Long, thin bill.

Sex Differences

Sexes similar.


Similar to adult.


Photo taken from: The Sibley Field Guide by David Allen Sibley

© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Clark's Grebe: Breeds from British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Minnesota south to southern California, and sparsely to Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. Spends winters along the coast from southeastern Alaska to California, along the Gulf coast, and on large river systems in west. Breeds on large lakes with reeds or rushes; winters mainly on shallow coastal bays and estuaries.


Diet consists mostly of fish, but also takes insects and other invertebrates; sometimes eats amphibians and plants; forages by diving from the surface.


Fish, insects and other invertebrates; sometimes eats amphibians and plants



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Podicipediformes
Family: Podicipedidae
Genus: Aechmophorus
Species: Aechmophorus clarkii
    Subspecies: Aechmophorus clarkii clarkii
  Aechmophorus clarkii transitionalis

Similar Species

Western Grebe is extremely similar, but has black surrounding the eyes and a duller yellow or greenish bill.

Winter Red-necked Grebe is gray and dingy, not bright white.

Loons are shorter necked and have solidly dark wings.

Bird Sound

Shrill whistle and rolling croak.

Eggs look like this

No photos of eggs are available at this time.