little grebe defined in 1930 yearlittle grebe - Little Grebe;
little grebe - Head, neck, and upper parts dark brown; a little white on the secondaries; chin black; cheeks, throat, and sides of the neck reddish chestnut; under parts greyish white; flanks dusky brown; bill horn-colour; legs and feet dull green. Length, nine inches and a half.
The little grebe, or dabchick, is less than the teal in size, and differs from the great crested grebe in about the same degree as the partridge does from the pheasant. It is the one common and well- known species of grebe in this country, being resident in suitable localities in all parts of the United Kingdom. In summer it is generally diffused, and is to be met with even on small pools and streams; in winter it shifts its ground, resorting to the rivers and larger bodies of water, and in very severe weather to the sea-coast.
It begins to breed at the end of April or early in May, and forms a floating nest of aquatic weeds and grasses close to the bank or among the reeds, but in most cases little care is taken to conceal the nest. The eggs are three or four to six in number, and are white, and rough in texture. Before quitting the nest the incubating bird invariably covers the eggs with wet leaves and grass, drawn in from the edge of the nest. It is hard to believe, with Seebohm, that the object of this action is to keep the eggs warm. The nest is, in very many cases, conspicuous to the eye, but on the slightest alarm the sitting-bird quickly and deftly draws the dead, wet materials like a blanket over the eggs, and, slipping off, dives silently, to come up at a considerable distance, usually where it cannot be seen. The nest then presents the appearance of a mere bunch of dead and water-soaked weeds or grass floating on the surface. I have examined a good many nests, and am convinced that the eggs are covered to hide them from the sight of egg-robbing animals, and that only the egg-robber that is neither furred nor feathered, and is well acquainted with the habits of the bird, is capable of seeing through this pretty deception.
The dabchick has the curious habit of holding its young under its wings and diving from the nest, to take them out of danger. Like its neighbour, the moorhen, the little grebe sometimes begins to breed a second time, before the young of the first brood are able to take proper care of themselves; and it has been observed in such cases that while one of the parents incubated the eggs in the new nest, the other has remained in charge of the partly grown young. The nest is used by the young birds after they are able to swim and dive, and while resting on it their parents bring them food.
The three remaining species of the grebe family (Podicipidae) included in the avifauna of the United Kingdom are the rednecked grebe (Podiceps griseigena), a rare winter visitor to the British coasts; the Sclavonian grebe (P. auritus), a not uncommon winter visitor to Scotland, Ireland, and the north and east coasts of England; and the eared grebe (P. nigrocollis), an irregular visitor, usually in spring, to the southern and eastern districts of England.
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