Tachybaptus is a genus of small members of the grebe family birds. The genus name is from Ancient Greek takhus "fast" and bapto "to sink under".[1] It has representatives over much of the world, including the tropics.

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)- Breeding plumage W2 IMG 8770.jpg
Tachybaptus ruficollis in Hyderabad, India.
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Podicipediformes
Family: Podicipedidae
Genus: Tachybaptus
Reichenbach, 1853

See text.

These grebes breed in small colonies in heavily vegetated areas of freshwater lakes. They may move to more open or coastal waters when not breeding, and birds in those areas where the waters freeze may be migratory.

Like all grebes, they nest on the water's edge, since the legs are set very far back and they cannot walk well. The striped young are sometimes carried on the adult's back.

These small grebes are excellent swimmers and divers, and pursue their fish prey underwater. The name Tachybaptus literally means "quick diving" (from the Greek for "quick" and "to dip").

The sexes are similar, dumpy and short-billed with a “powder puff” rear end. Adults have a distinctive breeding plumage and loud breeding calls. In winter, they are grey and white.

The five Old World species are closely related to each and at least three have interbred. Unlike these, the least grebe lacks chestnut colouring on the neck, and has formerly been placed in at least three other genera.


Image Scientific name Common Name Subspecies Distribution
  Tachybaptus ruficollis (Pallas 1764) Little grebe
  • T. r. ruficollis (Pallas 1764) (European little grebe)
  • T. r. albescens (Blanford 1877) (Indian little grebe)
  • T. r. iraquensis (Ticehurst 1923) (Iraq little grebe)
  • T. r. capensis (Salvadori 1884) (African little grebe)
  • T. r. poggei (Reichenow 1902)
  • T. r. philippensis (Bonnaterre 1790) (Philippine little grebe)
  • T. r. cotabato (Rand 1948) (Mindanao little grebe)
across Europe, much of Asia down to New Guinea, and most of Africa
Tachybaptus tricolor (Gray 1861)[2] Tricolored grebe
  • T. t. vulcanorum (Rensch 1929)
  • T. t. tricolor (Gray 1861)
  • T. t. collaris (Mayr 1945)
Sulawesi, North Maluku to New Guinea, Java, Timor, Lesser Sundas, to Bougainville Island.
  Tachybaptus novaehollandiae (Stephens 1826) Australasian grebe
  • T. n. javanicus (Mayr 1943)
  • T. n. fumosus (Mayr 1943)
  • T. n. incola (Mayr 1943)
  • T. n. novaehollandiae (Stephens 1826) (Australian little grebe)
  • T. n. leucosternos (Mayr 1931)
  • T. n. rennellianus (Mayr 1943)
greater Australia, New Zealand and on nearby Pacific islands.
  Tachybaptus pelzelnii (Hartlaub 1861) Madagascar grebe western and central Madagascar.
  Tachybaptus rufolavatus (Delacour 1932) (extinct last seen in 1985, declared extinct in 2010)[3][4]) Alaotra grebe (rusty grebe) Lake Alaotra and its surrounding lakes in Madagascar.
  Tachybaptus dominicus (Linnaeus 1766) Least grebe
  • T. d. brachypterus (Chapman 1899) (Mexican least grebe)
  • T. d. bangsi (van Rossem & Hachisuka 1937)] (Bangs' grebe)
  • T. d. dominicus (Linnaeus 1766) (West Indian grebe)
  • T. d. brachyrhynchus (Chapman 1899) (short-billed grebe)
  • T. d. eisenmanni Storer & Getty 1985
southwestern United States and Mexico to Argentina, and also on Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas and the Greater Antilles.


  1. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 377. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  2. ^ "Grebes". International Ornithological Congress. Retrieved 2015-01-06.
  3. ^ BirdLife International (2010) Species factsheet: Tachybaptus rufolavatus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/5/2010
  4. ^ BirdLife International (2010). Wetland aliens cause bird extinction. Downloaded on 26 May 2010 from http://www.birdlife.org/news/news/2010/05/red-list-for-birds-2010.html