Black-necked Grebe

Podiceps nigricollis (CL Brehm, 1831) BN BLNGR 120
Family: Podicipediformes > Podicipedidae

Black-necked Grebe, Liz Cutting

Black-necked Grebe is a rare breeding species in Britain, its small population largely restricted to central and eastern England. During the winter months the species may be found more widely on both inland and coastal sites.

Breeding Black-necked Grebes appear to favour shallow eutrophic lakes and pools with an abundance of submerged and floating vegetation. Favoured sites are typically quiet and undisturbed, and the species can be secretive when breeding.

The numbers of wintering Black-necked Grebes suggests that our breeding population is joined by individuals from elsewhere during the winter months.


Black-necked Grebe identification is sometimes difficult. The following article may help when identifying Black-necked Grebe.

related video

Identifying small breeding Grebes

Black-necked Grebe. Photograph by Graham Catley

Small grebes in summer are gloriously-coloured birds, but two of the three species are unfamiliar to most. Poor light or frequently encountered partially moulted birds can also cause some identification headaches. Let us help you separate these beautiful birds.


Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Black-necked Grebe, provided by xeno-canto contributors.

Begging call


Develop your bird ID skills with our training courses

Our interactive online courses are a great way to develop your bird identification skills, whether you're new to the hobby or a competent birder looking to hone your abilities.

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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.



The first UK breeding record of Black-necked Grebe was in 1904, and breeding numbers remaining very low for most of the twentieth century (Martin & Smith 2007). The population trend has been stable over the 25 years to 2019 (Eaton et al. 2021), having risen between the 1970s and the early 1990s (Martin & Smith 2007). The species has a scattered and localised breeding population in the UK and is monitored by the RBBP with a five-year mean of 53 breeding pairs over the period 2015–2019, almost all in England (Eaton et al. 2021).


Black-necked Grebes prefers sheltered coastal waters and large open reservoirs in winter. In winter they most abundant around the Thames Estuary and along the south coast of England. They are very scarce breeders in the UK, with most pairs in central and eastern England.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2


Black-necked Grebes have become more widespread in winter and the breeding season, although there have been losses in Scotland.

Change in occupied 10-km squares in the UK


Black-necked Grebes are present year-round though always scarce, and slightly more likely to be seen in winter.

Weekly occurence of Black-necked Grebe from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.

Foreign locations of birds ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland

Foreign locations of Black-necked Grebe ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland
Encountered in: Winter (Nov-Feb); Spring (Mar-Apr); Summer (May-Jul); Autumn (Aug-Oct)


Lifecycle and body size information about Black-necked Grebe, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.



View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report


Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Gaelic: Gobhlachan-dubh
Welsh: Gwyach Yddfddu
Catalan: cabussó collnegre
Czech: potápka cernokrká
Danish: Sorthalset Lappedykker
Dutch: Geoorde Fuut
Estonian: mustkael-pütt
Finnish: mustakaulauikku
French: Grèbe à cou noir
German: Schwarzhalstaucher
Hungarian: feketenyakú vöcsök
Icelandic: Stargoði
Irish: Foitheach Píbdhubh
Italian: Svasso piccolo
Latvian: melnkakla dukuris
Lithuanian: juodakaklis kragas
Norwegian: Svarthalsdykker
Polish: (perkoz) zausznik
Portuguese: cagarraz
Slovak: potápka ciernokrká
Slovenian: crnovrati ponirek
Spanish: Zampullín cuellinegro
Swedish: svarthalsad dopping


Interpretation and scientific publications about Black-necked Grebe from BTO scientists.


Causes of change

The increases in the UK in the 1970s and 1980s are believed to be related to a general increase across north-west Europe (Martin & Smith 2007). However, the reasons for the increases are unclear.

Links to more information from

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