Birda Logo
Species Guide
A photo of a Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)
Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Podilymbus podiceps

The Pied-billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps, is a modestly sized member of the grebe family, with a distinctive stout, chicken-like bill marked by a black band during the summer months. This bird is predominantly brown with a darker back and crown, and a white undertail. It measures 31–38 cm in length, has a wingspan of 45–62 cm, and weighs between 253–568 g. The species exhibits no sexual dimorphism, meaning males and females appear similar.

Identification Tips

When identifying the Pied-billed Grebe, look for its small, stocky build and short neck. The bill is short, blunt, and light grey, with a black band in the summer. Unlike other grebes, it lacks white under the wings in flight. Juveniles display black and white stripes and resemble winter adults. The species is adept at diving and when in flight, its feet trail behind due to their placement at the rear of the body.


Pied-billed Grebes favor freshwater wetlands with emergent vegetation such as cattails. They are also known to inhabit saltwater environments occasionally. During breeding, they prefer areas with open water nearby, while in winter, they are more commonly found in open water.


This grebe is widespread across North and Central America, the Caribbean, and South America. It is a year-round resident in many areas, but northern populations migrate to warmer climates during winter. They have been recorded as vagrants in Europe and Hawaii.


Pied-billed Grebes are elusive, often diving to avoid danger. They are not typically found in flocks and exhibit territorial behavior during the breeding season. Courtship involves vocalizations and sometimes duets. They are known for their ability to control buoyancy by trapping air in their feathers.

Song & Calls

The vocalizations of the Pied-billed Grebe are distinctive, described as a loud "whooping kuk-kuk-cow-cow-cow-cowp-cowp," reminiscent of the yellow-billed cuckoo's call.


Breeding occurs across a wide range, from south-central Canada to temperate South America. Nests are built on water, with eggs laid in vegetation. Both parents incubate the eggs for about 23 days. Chicks are downy upon hatching and are carried on parents' backs, especially when danger is near.

Similar Species

The Pied-billed Grebe can be confused with the Least Grebe, which is smaller with a thinner bill. Other similar-sized grebes, such as the Eared and Horned Grebes, have more colorful breeding plumage and red eyes in winter.

Diet and Feeding

Their diet consists mainly of aquatic invertebrates, small fish, amphibians, and occasionally plants. They are divers and use their bills to crush prey like crustaceans. Grebes consume their own feathers to aid digestion and feed them to their young.

Conservation status

The Pied-billed Grebe is currently listed as Least Concern by the IUCN. However, populations in the Northeastern United States are declining, with habitat loss being the primary threat. They are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

Pied-billed Grebe Sounds

Recorded by: © 
App logo
Birda is a birdwatching app and community aimed at curious people who want to deepen their connection with nature.

Pied-billed Grebe Fun Facts

Did you know?
Pied-billed Grebes eat feathers to help digest their prey.

Pied-billed Grebes on Birda


More Grebes

A photo of a Clark's Grebe (Aechmophorus clarkii)

Clark's Grebe

Aechmophorus clarkii
Birda Logo

Your birdwatching journey like never before

Connect with nature in minutes
Take a walk, look out of the window and log the birds that you see. Feel good about those little connections to nature.
Discover the joy of birding
Find new birding spots, see more birds, share and celebrate with a like-minded community of nature lovers.
Play your part in saving nature
Logging your birding sightings and sessions turns into positive action for our planet. Every sighting counts.

Birda Blog

What Our Birders Say
A mordern game changer
Birda is an awesome app, its updated the world of birding to the modern day with a fun and easy to use app. It’s engaging and allows positive interaction with fellow bird lovers!
Birda fan
I really enjoy using Birda, all sightings are recorded and photos can be added. There are monthly challenges which help to get you out to record your sightings. The Birda community are great and are happy to help with unidentified bird sightings. Suitable for all ages and experience!
The best bird logging app
Birda is honestly the best bird logging app I have seen. I love all the features it has from being able to do a session and log all the birds you see in one sitting, to being able to connect with other birders from all over the globe!
Alex J
Friendly and helps to identify birds
Great birding app, good for logging your sightings, also has nice species guide. I'm enjoying the social aspect more than I expected, everyone seems friendly and helps to identify unknown birds. Good mix of newbies and experienced users.
Loving it
I really enjoy being able to interact with other birders on this platform! This seems like a great way to meet other birders and find some new spots.
Patricia L
Very encouraging birding app
Easy to use, fun to see progress and encouraging to receive feedback from other users.
Talli A
My favourite app
As a young birdwatcher who was always keen to be apart of a community but never seemed to find one, my problem was solved downloading this!!! Everyone is so friendly and just as excited to see birds as me 😁
We've been waiting for an App like this
Excellent! We've been waiting for an app like this! Thank you! It would be nice if you could assign additional birds to sessions later!
Amylia S
Best app for any birding person!
I love this app!! I am so addicted to it when I saw it had 3 star review I was so sad! The app is awesome!! The best app for any birding person! ❤️
Great bird recording
For a while I’ve been trying to find an app to easily record bird lists and day out and struggled to find one that I like. Birda is great for this, straightforward and a great community!
As featured in
AboutPressAmbassadorsAffiliatesInfluencersCareersPrivacyTerms & Conditions
An app for birdwatchers
Giving back
Connect with us
Copyright © 2024 Chirp Birding. All rights reserved.