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The Horned Grebe is a small waterbird with a short, straight bill with a pale tip. Its breeding plumage includes a distinctive patch of bright buff feathers behind the eye ("horns") and extending back to the nape of the neck and contrasting sharply with its black head. The foreneck, flanks and upper breast are chestnut-red, while its back is black and belly white. This plumage is shared by both sexes.

Weight: 300 to 570 g (10.6 to 20.1 oz). Length: 31 to 38 cm (12 to 15 in). 

Report Horned Grebe sightings to 

Habitat for Horned Grebe includes small ponds, marshes and wetlands, either natural or man-made. They build floating nests in shallow water, and use willow, cattails or other plants for protection from predators and shelter from strong waves. 

Horned grebes arrive in the Northwest Territories in May. They lay five to seven eggs that hatch in mid-June and July. Once hatched, chicks are almost immediately able to swim and dive underwater. However, during the first few weeks they often ride on the backs of their parents and can even go underwater with them during dives. 

Adults leave the Northwest Territories by mid-August and young leave by early September. They winter along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America.

Horned Grebes eat aquatic insects, small fish and crustaceans. They are known for eating their own feathers to aid in digestion and even feed feathers to young chicks.

Horned Grebe numbers have declined in their wintering areas as well as their breeding grounds across all regions of Canada, with steeper declines detected in the Prairie Pothole region than in the boreal forest. There are recent signs of a possible population increase from the Breeding Bird Survey. 

Potential threats in the Northwest Territories include predation on chicks by Northern Pike and gulls, as well as increases in nest predators such as crows, ravens, magpies, gulls, mink, and foxes. Climate change may cause loss of wetlands due to drought or changes in water quality.

Researchers are tracking Horned Grebes from Yellowknife to learn where they overwinter and what threats they are exposed to.

COSEWIC assessed Horned Grebe as Special Concern in 2009 and again in 2023. Horned Grebe was listed as Special Concern under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) in 2017.

Horned Grebes and their nests are protected under the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act.

A national management plan for the Horned Grebe is available on the federal Species at Risk Public Registry.

Dehcho Gwich'in Inuvialuit North Slave / Tłı̨chǫ Sahtú South Slave