Podiceps auritus 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Podicipediformes Podicipedidae

Scientific Name: Podiceps auritus
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Horned Grebe, Slavonian Grebe
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International.
Identification information: 31-38 cm grebe. Nominate race in breeding plumage has blackish cap, hindneck and upperparts; lores warm brown; broad golden band over and behind eye; blackish lower face; chestnut to maroon-chestnut foreneck and sides of neck, breast-sides and flanks; white abdomen; iris red; bill black (Llimona et al. 2014). Non-breeding adult has greyish-black cap to just below eye; lores diffusely pale; grey or brown-grey sides of neck, sometimes extending across upper foreneck; upperparts dark slate-grey; lower face, chin, throat and sides of upper neck white; bill dark grey. Race cornutus very similar to nominate but tends to have paler tuft on sides of head and in non-breeding plumage is greyer above and grey fringes to dorsal feathers are broader. Similar spp. Differs in non-breeding plumage from similar Black-necked Grebe P. nigricollis in having almost all-white ear-coverts, heavier and straighter bill, flat crown, usually some white on forewing, and white on rear wing not extending to inner primaries (Llimona et al. 2014). Voice Most common call a hoarse rattling "hee-arrr" on descending scale (Llimona et al. 2014). In display it makes a loud pulsating trill of whinnying and fast giggle-like notes ending in a drawn-out note. Generally silent outside breeding season.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2abce+3bce+4abce ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Raudonikis, L., Ellermaa, M. & Mischenko, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ashpole, J, Burfield, I., Butchart, S., Calvert, R., Ekstrom, J., Ieronymidou, C., Malpas, L., Pople, R., Wheatley, H. & Wright, L
This species is thought to be undergoing rapid declines based on counts in its North American and European range, owing to the effects of human disturbance, forestry operations around breeding lakes, fluctuating water levels, and the stocking of lakes with rainbow trout. It has therefore been uplisted to Vulnerable.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2012 Least Concern (LC)
2009 Least Concern (LC)
2008 Least Concern (LC)
2004 Least Concern (LC)
2000 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
1994 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
1988 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is found in the Palearctic and Nearctic. It breeds from Iceland and the Baltic to Kamchatka, Russia, wintering from the North Sea to the Caspian Sea and off Japan to China (Llimona et al. 2014). Birds breeding from central Alaska (U.S.A.) to central Canada and north-west/north-central U.S.A. with isolated populations in Magdalen Islands, Quebec (Canada) winter from the Aleutian Islands south to California and from Nova Scotia south to Texas. No more than 25 adults have been recorded during the breeding season on the Magdalen Islands since 1993 (COSEWIC 2009).
Countries occurrence:
Albania; Austria; Azerbaijan; Belarus; Belgium; Bulgaria; Canada; China; Croatia; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Faroe Islands; Finland; France; Georgia; Germany; Greece; Greenland; Hungary; Iceland; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Ireland; Italy; Japan; Kazakhstan; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Kyrgyzstan; Latvia; Lithuania; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Mexico; Moldova; Mongolia; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Romania; Russian Federation; Saint Pierre and Miquelon; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Taiwan, Province of China; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; United Kingdom; United States (Georgia); Uzbekistan
Algeria; Armenia (Armenia); Bermuda; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Cyprus; Gibraltar; Hong Kong; India; Israel; Kuwait; Lebanon; Libya; Luxembourg; Montenegro; Morocco; Pakistan; Portugal; Serbia (Serbia); Svalbard and Jan Mayen; Syrian Arab Republic; Tunisia
Present - origin uncertain:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 4000000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Continuing decline in number of locations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations: No
Upper elevation limit (metres): 1000
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The global population is estimated to number c. 239,000-583,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2012). The European population is estimated at 6,400-9,200 pairs, which equates to 12,900-18,500 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe holds <10% of the global population with a similar proportion in Asia.

Trend Justification:  This species has undergone a large and statistically significant decrease over the last 40 years in North America (-75.9% decline over 40 years, equating to a -29.9% decline per decade; data from Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count: Butcher and Niven 2007). Overall it is highly likely that the population has declined by >30% over the last three generations (COSEWIC 2009). The relatively small European population is estimated to be decreasing at a rate approaching 30% in 21.3 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015).
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations: No Population severely fragmented: No
Continuing decline in subpopulations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All individuals in one subpopulation: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The species breeds on small, shallow fresh (del Hoyo et al. 1992), brackish or slightly alkaline (Fjeldså 2004) waters between 0.5 and 2 m deep and between 1 and 20 ha in area (Snow and Perrins 1998) with rich floating (Konter 2001), submergent and emergent vegetation (Fjeldså 2004). Habitats include small pools, marshes with patches of open water and secluded sections of larger lakes and rivers (del Hoyo et al. 1992). The nest is a platform of aquatic vegetation either floating and anchored to emergent vegetation, built from the lake bottom (where water is shallow) or built on rocks at water level (del Hoyo et al. 1992). In its wintering range the species frequents coastal inshore waters (del Hoyo et al. 1992) up to 10-20 m in depth (Fjeldså 2004) including sheltered bays (del Hoyo et al. 1992), lagoons and estuaries (Ogilvie and Rose 2003). It may also occur on large lake and river systems south of its breeding range (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Fjeldså 2004). 

Its diet consists predominantly of fish and invertebrates such as adult and larval insects (e.g. beetles, dragonflies, mayflies, water bugs, damselflies and caddisflies), crustaceans (del Hoyo et al. 1992) (e.g. brine shrimp, cladocerans, amphipods, decapods (del Hoyo et al. 1992), crayfish (Fjeldså 2004) and crabs (Konter 2001)), molluscs and worms (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Fish and crustaceans are more important components of the diet during the winter when the species is at sea (del Hoyo et al. 1992). This species is fully migratory (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and travels over land in stages on a broad front, some populations only moving short distances to the nearest ice-free coast (Fjeldså 2004).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Unknown
Generation Length (years): 7.1
Movement patterns: Full Migrant
Congregatory: Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The main threats to the species are human disturbance, forestry operations around breeding lakes (e.g. afforestation leading to hydrological changes and resulting in reduced numbers of invertebrate prey), fluctuating water levels, and the stocking of lakes with rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss (which competes with the species for aquatic insects) (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Outbreaks of Type E Botulism in the Great Lakes may be an important cause of mortality (COSEWIC 2009). Historical range contractions have also occurred due to acidification and increased humus content of lakes, and the species is vulnerable to hypertrophication (Fjeldså 2004). It is commonly caught and accidentally drowned in fishing nets (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and is particularly vulnerable to oil spills in the marine environment during the winter (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Ogilvie and Rose 2003, Fjeldså 2004, COSEWIC 2009). On the prairies of Canada the spread of predators (Common Raven Corvus corax, Black-billed Magpie Pica pica and Raccoon Procyon lotor) poses a threat to the western population as does competition with other waterbirds such as Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena and Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps (COSEWIC 2009).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation and Research Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II (western Palearctic populations). EU Birds Directive Annex I. Bern Convention Appendix II. In Canada the western population (British Columbia to Ontario) is considered of Special Concern and the breeding population on the Magdalen Islands, Quebec is considered Endangered (COSEWIC 2009). An action plan for the population breeding on the Magdalen Islands, Canada has been developed (Environment Canada 2014). At a breeding lake in Scotland (Loch Ruthven) sedge beds are being extended to provide more nesting habitat for the species (Ogilvie and Rose 2003).

Conservation and Research Actions Proposed
Identify sites of international importance for the species and implement site protection. Populations should be closely monitored to determine whether numbers are stable or whether local declines are symptomatic of more widespread problems. Conduct survey work to accurately ascertain the current population sizes of both subspecies. Marginal populations in north-western Europe which have shown strong historical fluctuations should also be monitored (O'Donnel and Fjeldså 1997). Stricter legislation on oil drilling and transport should be enforced and mitigation measures against bycatch in fisheries implemented.

For the population breeding on the Magdalen Islands, Canada a series of approaches to conserving the species have been proposed (Environment Canada 2014) including: protect critical habitat; increase awareness of the species among the general public; work with land managers to protect important habitats and sites for the species; limit human disturbance; implement research into population dynamics and ecology including migration patterns; develop methods to reduce interspecific competition; work with partners in the U.S.A. where birds from the Magdalen Islands are likely to winter.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2015. Podiceps auritus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T22696606A82758808. . Downloaded on 29 November 2015.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided