Family Grebes (Podicipedidae)

Least Concern

Great Grebe (Podiceps major)


French: Grand Grèbe German: Magellantaucher Spanish: Somormujo macachón

Colymbus major


, 1783,

Cayenne; error = unknown locality


Sometimes isolated in monospecific genus Podicephorus on basis of morphology, supported by behavioural differences. Formerly placed in Aechmophorus, but similarities superficial. Older name leucopterus might be applicable to taxon navasi but is probably a nomen oblitum#R. Birds from coastal Peru probably constitute a further, undescribed race. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. m. major (Boddaert, 1783) – NW Peru; Paraguay and extreme SE Brazil S to Patagonia and C Chile.
  • P. m. navasi Manghi, 1984 – S Chile (S of R Bío Bío).
  • Descriptive notes

    c. 67–77 cm; one male 1131 g, one female 1646 g. The largest grebe, in some plumages recalling wholly allopatric P. grisegena, but readily separated by overall... read more


    Commonest call a loud moaning “huaa”, more than 1 second long, given during advertising and... read more


    Found mainly on open water. Inlets fringed with vegetation on large lakes; low-altitude lakes and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Apparently mainly fish. On R Paraná, in NE Argentina, prey comprised fish (71%), insects (14%), crustaceans (10%) and molluscs (5... read more


    Season fairly irregular, some populations apparently breeding at any time of year; season Jul–Jan in SE Brazil, but most laying... read more


    Generally moves to coastal waters after breeding season; at onset of breeding, moves from salt back... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread and common throughout most of range. Estimated global population c. 50,000 individuals; true numbers possibly much greater... read more

    Recommended citation

    Llimona, F., del Hoyo, J., Jutglar, F. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Great Grebe (Podiceps major). 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 19 February 2020).