Horned Grebe Western population
Scientific Name: Podiceps auritus
Taxonomy Group: Birds
COSEWIC Range: Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: April 2009
COSEWIC Status: Special Concern
COSEWIC Status Criteria:
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: Approximately 92% of the North American breeding range of this species is in Canada and is occupied by this population. It has experienced both long-term and short-term declines and there is no evidence to suggest that this trend will be reversed in the near future. Threats include degradation of wetland breeding habitat, droughts, increasing populations of nest predators (mostly in the Prairies), and oil spills on their wintering grounds in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Special Concern in April 2009.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Special Concern
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2017-02-03
Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.
The Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus) is a member of the Podiceps genus. There are two known subspecies of the Horned Grebe: (P. a. auritus), which breeds in Eurasia, and (P. a. cornutus), which breeds in North America. The Horned Grebe is a relatively small waterbird with breeding plumage characterized by a patch of bright buff feathers behind the eye, which extends into tufts that contrast with its black head. Horned Grebes occupy the upper trophic level and all of their life stages are tied to water. They may, therefore, be useful indicators of changes in wetland habitat. Furthermore, their striking nuptial plumage, spectacular courtship displays and approachable nature make them popular among bird watchers and ecotourists. On the Magdalen Islands, and by extension in eastern Canada, this small population is unique among the natural heritage. [Updated by COSEWIC - April. 2009]
Distribution and Population
Approximately 92% of the North American breeding range of the Horned Grebe is in Canada. It breeds in British Columbia, Yukon, the Mackenzie River Valley in the Northwest Territories, the extreme southern part of Nunavut, all of the Prairies, northwestern Ontario and the Magdalen Islands (Quebec), where a small isolated population has been breeding for at least a century. In the United States, it breeds in central and southern Alaska, as well as locally in some northwestern states. Most of the North American population winters along the coasts of the continent. The Western Population of the Horned Grebe is estimated at between 200 000 and 500 000 individuals, with most of the birds found in Saskatchewan and Alberta. Long-term trend analyses based on Christmas Bird Counts show a significant decline of 1.5%/year between 1966 and 2005. At this rate of decline, the population will have decreased by approximately 45% since the mid-1960s. Short-term trend analyses based on the same survey methods show a significant annual rate of decline of 1.25%/year between 1993 and 2005 (three generations). At this rate, the population will have decreased by 14% over the last three generations. The Magdalen Islands Population in Quebec is estimated at an average of 15 adults. Since 1993, no more than 25 adults have been seen during the same breeding season and only five adults were observed in 2005. Analyses based on annual surveys on the Magdalen Islands suggest that the population has declined by approximately 22% over the last three generations. [Updated by COSEWIC - April. 2009]
The Horned Grebe breeds primarily in temperate zones such as the Prairies and Parkland Canada, but can also be found in more boreal and subarctic zones. It generally breeds in freshwater and occasionally in brackish water on small semi-permanent or permanent ponds, but it also uses marshes and shallow bays on lake borders. Breeding areas require open water rich in emerging vegetation, which provides nest materials, concealment and anchorage, and protection for the young. [Updated by COSEWIC - April. 2009]
The Horned Grebe is generally a solitary nester, although it can nest in loose colonies if the breeding pond is sufficiently large and there are abundant food resources. The Horned Grebe is aggressive when defending its territory, rarely leaving its nest unguarded. Its diet consists primarily of aquatic insects and fish in the summer, and fish, crustaceans and polychaetes in the winter. [Updated by COSEWIC - April. 2009]
Permanent loss of wetlands to agriculture and development threaten Horned Grebe populations. Temporary loss of wetlands during droughts can also negatively impact Horned Grebe populations, as can eutrophication and degradation of nesting sites from the accumulation of fertilizers used in agriculture. The expansion of predators on the Prairies, Type E Botulism on the Great Lakes and oil spills on the wintering grounds can also threaten Horned Grebe populations. The very small size of the Magdalen Islands Population makes it vulnerable to demographic, environmental and genetic factors. [Updated by COSEWIC - April. 2009]
More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.
Provincial and Territorial Protection
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
10 record(s) found.
- COSEWIC Status Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- Response Statements (1 record(s) found.)
- Action Plans (2 record(s) found.)
- Management Plans (1 record(s) found.)
- Orders (2 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Annual Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- Consultation Documents (1 record(s) found.)
- Related Information (1 record(s) found.)
COSEWIC Status Reports
COSEWIC Annual Reports
COSEWIC Annual Report - 2009 (2009-08-28)2009 Annual Report to the The Minister of the Environment and the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.