(2291) Podiceps nigricollis nigricollis.
The Black-necked Grebe.
Podiceps nigricollis Brehm, Handb. Natur. Vog. Deutchl., p. 963 (1831) (Deutchland) ; Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 474.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. - Breeding plumage. A line of long, silky, hair-like feathers commencing behind the eye and running down the neck, rufous at the base, changing to gold and then to palest glistening gold at the tips; rest of head and neck black; the feathers next the neck-tufts longer than the others; upper parts dark brown; wing-coverts dark brown; primaries paler brown, the inner with white tips and white on the inner webs extending to the outer webs on the innermost; outer secondaries white; inner secondaries and scapulars blackish-brown; below shining silky white; sides of the breast and flanks chestnut, mottled with brown; round about vent mottled brown and white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris red-brown or wholly vermilion-red in breeding-season in old males; bill black with the extreme tip horny-white or all black; legs and feet blackish on the outer parts, feet and webs grey, plumbeous or olive-plumbeous on the inner sides.
Measurements. Wing 123 to 137 mm.; tarsus about 20 to 26 mm., generally 21 to 24 mm.; culmen 39 to 43 mm.
Non-breeding birds have no lengthened rufous and gold feathers from the eye to the neck; the chin and throat are white or mixed black and white; the upper parts are brown, the head, neck and back concolorous, the scapulars and inner secondaries sometimes blackish; the sides of the breast and flanks are white like the abdomen, occasionally with a little brown mottling on the latter.
Young birds have the chin and throat pure white and the fore-neck and extreme upper breast dull grey; in other respects they resemble the adult in Winter plumage.
Nestling. Upper parts blackish, the stripes on the back ill-defined, the paler ones hardly showing; on the head the black stripes are broader, the pale stripes more fulvous-grey or fulvous-buff and not contrasting strongly with the black; sides of head and' neck with more sharply contrasting black and white streaks, the latter on the neck and sides of the throat broken into spots; abdomen white, all round flanks and vent blackish-brown, flecked with white on the flanks.
Distribution. Prom Denmark and Southern Scandinavia throughout Europe and temperate Asia to China, Japan and India. Hume records it as not uncommon off the Mekran coast, Ticehurst obtained two specimens and saw another on the Manchar Lake, Meinertzhagen obtained it in Baluchistan and Finn procured a live bird in the Calcutta market.
Nidification. The nearest place to India in which the Black-necked Grebe has been recorded as breeding is Baluchistan, where Meinertzhagen found it nesting. In Europe it breeds during May and June or, occasionally, in April. It makes a nest quite typical of the family, a floating pad of grass and weeds but, unlike the Crested Grebe, it seems to prefer dense reed-beds as sites for its nest rather than the more open, weed-covered water. It lays normally three to five eggs, though as many as eight have been recorded. They are like those of the Crested Grebe, though much smaller. One hundred eggs (Jourdain) average 43.9 x 30.2 mm.: maxima 48.5 x 32.0 and 40.0 x 34.0 mm.; minima 39.0 x 27.1 mm. In parts of the Continent where the Black-necked Grebe is very common it breeds in small colonies. As with all the Grebes, both parents take part in incubation, whilst the male often sits on the nest with the female when she is sitting.
Habits. The food of these Grebes is said to consist principally of insects, Coleoptera and Hymenoptera forming the larger part. They also eat fish, frogs, worms, larvae, mollusca and Crustacea, whilst the young, according to Oldham, are fed entirely on fish. Their call-note is said by Witherby to be a soft "pee-ep," the courting-note a rippling " bidder-vidder-vidder-vidder" and the alarm-note a sharp " whit-whit."