views updated

Podicipedidae (grebes; class Aves, order Podicipediformes) A family of medium to large diving birds which are grey or dark brown above, and many of which are white below. Many have ear tufts and crests. The genus Podiceps, the largest in the family (11 species), is typical, Their legs are positioned at the rear of the body, and their feet are lobed and partially webbed. Their wings are small, some birds being practically flightless, and many have white secondaries. They have short to long, pointed bills, and most have long necks. They inhabit freshwater lakes in summer (many Central and S. American Podiceps species are confined to isolated lakes and are endangered), and some move to coastal waters in winter, They feed on fish and invertebrates, and nest on a platform of vegetation in the water. There are five genera, comprising 20 species, found in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australasia, N., Central, and S. America.