Eared Grebe
(Podiceps nigricollis)


Picture of bird
© Andrew A Reding - License
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Breeding colonially in shallow lakes and ponds throughout the western provinces, the Eared Grebe is the world’s most abundant grebe (Cullen et al. 1999). Results from the Christmas Bird Count show little overall change in the North American population. The population status specific to the Canadian portion of the population remains uncertain, but is thought to have shown little change since 1970. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLittle ChangeLowAt an Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
CanadaNot yet available

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaTo be determined

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between early May and late May and ends between mid-July and late July, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.

Conservation and management

Although specific threats remain largely unknown, their concentration into large flocks throughout the year leaves Eared Grebes vulnerable to stochastic events. In the fall, the majority of Eared Grebes stage and moult at Mono Lake, in California, and Great Salt Lake, in Utah (Boyd and Jehl, Jr 1998). In recent years, there appears to have been a shift from Mono to Great Salt Lake. This shift has corresponded to several years of draught conditions in the Sierra Nevadas and lower fresh water input to Mono Lake, which has resulted in lower lake levels, increased salinity, and ultimately lower brine shrimp densities. Eared Grebes forage almost exclusively on brine shrimp; this could be why the number on Mono Lake has declined to historically low levels compared to Great Salt Lake, which now supports historically high numbers (S. Boyd, ECCC, pers. comm.). Collisions and mass landings of densely aggregated staging migrants attracted to lights may represent an important cause of mortality (Ellis et al. 2016), while disease outbreaks, food shortages or climatic fluctuations can also cause sudden and dramatic die-offs (Cullen et al. 1999). Loss of wetland habitat from agricultural development and recreational disturbance of nesting sites likely further reduce nesting success (Cullen et al. 1999).


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Boreal Taiga PlainsBoreal Taiga Plains, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Conservation
Prairie PotholesPrairie Potholes, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Other