(noun) Scientific bird family classification for all grebes. There are 22 species in the Podicipedidae family, and different species of grebes can be found on every continent except Antarctica. They prefer freshwater habitats but can be found in brackish areas or along coasts in the winter.
These birds are related to the Phoenicopteridae family – flamingos – but bear little resemblance to their larger, more colorful cousins. Grebes do often have distinct breeding plumage with colorful markings, but in winter are much plainer.
Characteristics that are shared by most birds in the Podicipedidae family include:
- Legs and feet set far back on the body
- Large, broad feet and lobed toes
- Superb swimming and diving ability
- Dense, waterproof plumage
- Long necks
- Very short tails
Because of the unique construction of their legs and feet, grebes are graceful in the water but awkward on land. If they are startled or threatened they prefer to dive rather than take flight. A grebe's feathers can be adjusted to change its buoyancy, and these birds can sink below the water's surface quickly and easily.
Photo – Great Crested Grebe © Ferran Pestaña
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