Podiceps nigricollis (Black-necked grebe) 

Swartnekdobbertjie [Afrikaans]; Geoorde fuut [Dutch]; Grèbe à cou noir [French]; Schwarzhalstaucher [German]; Mergulhão-de-pescoço-preto [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Ciconiiformes  > Family: Podicipedidae

Podiceps nigricollis (Black-necked grebe) Podiceps nigricollis (Black-necked grebe)

Black-necked grebe in breeding plumage, Paarl Bird Sanctuary, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Black-necked grebe in breeding plumage.. [photo Peter Steyn ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs across Eurasia, North and South America and sub-Saharan Africa. In southern Africa, it is uncommon to locally common in patches of Namibia, central Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa, from the Western Cape to Gauteng and Mpumalanga. It generally favours large pans and temporary water bodies, particularly those that form after heavy rainfall, as well as natural and commercial saltpans.

Distribution of Black-necked grebe in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Movements and migrations

Nomadic in semi-arid and arid areas, moving in search of temporary pans and breeding wherever conditions are suitable.


It eats a variety of aquatic prey caught underwater, sometimes foraging in flocks of over 75 individuals. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • fish
  • aquatic insects
  • larvae
  • crustaceans
  • molluscs


  • Monogamous and usually semi-colonial, performing a wide variety of territorial and courtship displays.
  • The nest (see image below) is built by both sexes in about a week, consisting of a mound of algae and other soft plant matter, anchored on an underwater plant in open water.

Black-necked grebe at its nest, Wakkerstroom, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • Egg-laying season is almost year-round, peaking in November in the Western Cape and from March-April elsewhere.
  • It lays 1-7 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 20-22 days.
  • The chicks leave the nest immediately after hatching, and are fed and carried on the backs of both parents.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 



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