Family Grebes (Podicipedidae)


Alaotra Grebe (Tachybaptus rufolavatus)


French: Grèbe roussâtre German: Delacourzwergtaucher Spanish: Zampullín del Alaotra
Other common names: Rusty Grebe, Alaotra Little Grebe

Podiceps rufolavatus


, 1932,

Lake Alaotra, Madagascar


Formerly included in genus Podiceps. Closest to T. ruficollis and T. novaehollandiae. Sometimes considered a race of former, with which intensive hybridization occurred. Monotypic.


L Alaotra and immediate vicinity, in NC Madagascar. Records outside this region unreliable, as species was probably incapable of prolonged flight#R#R.

Last confirmed sightings in 1982, when 12 seen on L Alaotra, and in 1985, when two individuals (in addition to several apparent hybrids) near Andreba, also on L Alaotra; individuals with some characteristics of the species seen on L Alaotra in 1986 and 1988#R. In survey in 1999 and visits in 2000, no individuals of any Tachybaptus species found on L Alaotra or surrounding lakes; recent visit to L Amparihinandriamabavy failed to find any grebes#R. Causes of extinction probably several, especially introduction of carnivorous fish, habitat degradation (including reduction in water quality through soil erosion on banks), introduction of exotic biota (plants, mammals and fish), hybridization with T. ruficollis, and poaching.

Descriptive notes

25 cm. Relatively short-winged grebe with rather heavy bill. Adult in breeding plumage has blackish-brown cap reaching just below eye and back over hindneck and... read more


No information.


Alaotra is a large but shallow lake; shores originally covered with dense vegetation, predominantly... read more

Food and feeding

Almost exclusively small fish.


Season apparently variable: found breeding in Apr–Jun 1929 and in Jan–Mar 1960. No further information available.


Presumed strongly sedentary owing to short wing and virtual restriction to L Alaotra. Increasingly... read more

Status and conservation

EXTINCT. Previously listed as CRITICALLY ENDANGERED, but in thorough surveys of L Alaotra in 1989, and further surveys in 2004 and 2009, no evidence of the species’... read more

Recommended citation

Llimona, F., del Hoyo, J., Christie, D.A., Jutglar, F. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Alaotra Grebe (Tachybaptus rufolavatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 25 May 2019).