Western Grebe

Aechmophorus occidentalis

A large black-and-white grebe, the Western Grebe breeds in lakes and ponds across the American West and winters primarily off the Pacific Coast.

Interesting Information

  • The Western Grebe was first described in 1858 by Sir William Lawrence, an English surgeon and biologist.

  • Folk names for this bird include Dabchick, Swan Grebe, and Swan-necked Grebe.

  • It is the largest North American grebe.

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


Adult Description

  • Size: 55-75 cm (22-30 in)

  • Wingspan: 79-86 cm (31-34 in)

  • Weight: 800-180 g (28.24-6.35 ounces)

  • Medium-sized waterbird.

  • Black back and 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


Preferred habitats include large lakes with reeds or rushes, shallow coastal bays, and estuaries.


Dives under water to spear fish with its long bill.


Eats fish, insects, mollusks, and crustaceans



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Podicipediformes
Family: Podicipedidae
Genus: Aechmophorus
Species: Aechmophorus occidentalis
  Aechmophorus occidentalis ephemeralis
  Aechmophorus occidentalis occidentalis

Similar Species

Clark's Grebe is extremely similar, but has white in front of the eyes and a brighter yellow 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

Photo taken from: ARCTOS Collaborative Collection Management Solution


Western Grebe

Western Grebes