Podiceps is a genus of birds in the grebe family. The genus name comes from Latin podicis, "vent" and pes, "foot", and is a reference to the placement of a grebe's legs towards the rear of its body.

Temporal range: Early Oligocene to present
Podiceps Diversity.jpg
Montage of eight species, featuring from left to right in three rows: P. cristatus, P. gallardoi, P. grisegena; P. auritus, P. nigricollis; P. taczanowskii, P. occipitalis, P. major.
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Podicipediformes
Family: Podicipedidae
Genus: Podiceps
Latham, 1787
Type species
Podiceps cristatus

See text.



It has representatives breeding in Europe, Asia, North, and South America. Most northern hemisphere species migrate in winter to the coast or warmer climates.

They breed in vegetated areas of freshwater lakes, nesting on the water's edge, since their legs are set too far back for easy walking. Usually two eggs are laid, and the striped young may be carried on the adult's back.

All the genus are excellent swimmers and divers, and pursue their fish prey underwater.

Adults have striking breeding plumage, with no difference between the sexes. In winter, the plumage is subdued whites and greys.


The genus Podiceps was erected by the English naturalist John Latham in 1787.[1] The type species was subsequently designated as the great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus).[2] The genus name combines the Latin podex meaning "vent" and pes meaning "foot".[3]

The black-necked, Colombian, silvery, and Junin grebes are very closely related and were formerly sometimes separated as the genus Dyas. The great grebe has also sometimes been separated as the sole member of the genus Podicephorus.[4][5]

The genus contains nine species:[6]

One of the very oldest fossil grebes known to date actually belongs to this genus. Regarding grebes, the fossil record leaves much to be desired, being quite complete for the last 5 million years before present but very incomplete before the Pliocene.

Fossil species of Podiceps are:

  • Podiceps cf. auritus (Early Pliocene of Florida, USA) – formerly P. pisanus, P. howardae and Pliodytes lanquisti
  • Podiceps discors (Late Pliocene of WC USA)
  • Podiceps dixi (Late Pleistocene)
  • Podiceps oligocaenus (John Day Late Oligocene/Early Miocene)
  • Podiceps parvus (Late Pleistocene of W North America)
  • Podiceps subparvus (Middle Pliocene of California, USA)
  • Podiceps? sp. (Late Pliocene of WC USA)
  • Podiceps sp. (Early Pleistocene of Dursunlu, Turkey)[7]

Among the material assigned to P. parvus were bones of another species, which may or may not belong in this genus.[8]


  1. ^ Latham, John (1787). Supplement to the General Synopsis of Birds. London: Printed for Leigh & Sotheby. p. 294.
  2. ^ Mayr, Ernst; Cottrell, G. William, eds. (1979). Check-list of Birds of the World. Volume 1 (2nd ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 148. |volume= has extra text (help)
  3. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 311. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  4. ^ Ogilvie, Malcolm Alexander & Rose, Chris (2003). Grebes of the World. B. Coleman, Uxbridge. ISBN 1-872842-03-8
  5. ^ Harrison, Peter (1988). Seabirds (2nd ed.). Christopher Helm, London. ISBN 0-7470-1410-8
  6. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2019). "Grebes, flamingos, buttonquail, plovers, painted-snipes, jacanas, plains-wanderer, seedsnipes". World Bird List Version 9.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  7. ^ Louchart, Antoine; Mourer-Chauviré, Cécile; Guleç, Erksin; Howell, Francis Clark; White, Tim D. (September 1998). "L'avifaune de Dursunlu, Turquie, Pléistocène inférieur: climat, environnement et biogéographie". Comptes Rendus de l'Académie des Sciences, Série IIA (in French and English). 327 (5): 341–346. Bibcode:1998CRASE.327..341L. doi:10.1016/S1251-8050(98)80053-0.
  8. ^ Murray, Bertram G., Jr (May–June 1967). "Grebes from the Late Pliocene of North America" (PDF). Condor. 69 (3): 277–288. doi:10.2307/1366317. JSTOR 1366317.