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The Greeblies are coming!

October 13, 2021

Non-breeding plumage

Any one who has been cycling in the last month knows it is nest-building season and has run the gauntlet of magpies protecting theirs. On a more sedate note in our local dams Australasian Grebes (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) have been quietly constructing their own nests.

Australasian Grebes are freshwater birds. During winter the plumage is quite plain (see photo left) but as breeding season approaches the birds display distinctive plumage (see photo below) including a yellow facial patch, a darker head and a striking chestnut stripe extending from the back of the eye down the neck (see photos below).

Back from Bunnings

In early spring the breeding pair accumulate reeds and grasses (pictured right) and constructs a floating nest tethered in a body of still water away from the shore. This is to protect the adult birds and the eggs and chicks from land based predators e.g. cats and foxes. The eggs take about three weeks to hatch so in a couple of weeks expect another blog on the arrival of the greeblies.

Breeding plumage

Grebes are good swimmers and divers (tachybaptus in the scientific name is Greek for rapid dipper). It is hard to get good photos of these birds because when approached they dive under the water and resurface many metres away. Quite the opposite of what happens when approaching a magpie nest.

We’re just never happy!

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