Family Grebes (Podicipedidae)

Least Concern

Hoary-headed Grebe (Poliocephalus poliocephalus)


French: Grèbe argenté German: Haarschopftaucher Spanish: Zampullín canoso

Podiceps poliocephalus

Jardine and Selby

, 1827,

New South Wales


Formerly included in Podiceps, and less frequently in Tachybaptus. Closely related to P. rufopectus. Monotypic.


Australia and Tasmania; isolated breeding in New Zealand in 1970s, but apparently not established#R.

Descriptive notes

27–30·5 cm; 220–260 g. Mostly drab to grey-looking small grebe, rear body often fluffed out, recalling Tachybaptus. Breeding adult has brown-... read more


Generally silent; the least vocal of all grebes. Emits weak advertisement call, a guttural rolling... read more


Prefers open, unsheltered wetlands, permanent or semi permanent; also uses temporary wetlands,... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly small arthropods, both adults and larvae, e.g. corixid bugs, chironomids, water-fleas (Cladocera), amphipods, water beetles (... read more


Season varies from year to year; normally breeds after rains, generally Oct–Jan in S of range, but variable elsewhere; no evidence of... read more


Poorly known. Some regular movements in coastal areas, at least in SE Australia, where large flocks... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). No accurate estimates of total population, but perhaps minimum of 500,000 individuals; believed to be stable. In Australia common to... read more

Recommended citation

Llimona, F., del Hoyo, J., Christie, D.A., Jutglar, F. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Hoary-headed Grebe (Poliocephalus poliocephalus). 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 27 February 2020).