All the front toes furnished with broad lateral lobes coalescing at the base and not contracted at the joints of the digits; hind toe raised and lobed, fourth toe longest; nails broad and flattened. Tail rudimentary or wanting. Cervical vertebrae 17 to 21; several of the dorsal vertebrae anchylosed. Angle of lower jaw not produced. Twelve primaries. Ambiens muscle wanting; accessory femoro-caudal and semitendinosus present, but not the other characteristic thigh-muscles. Only the left carotid is developed.
Nest a mass of floating herbage, usually amongst reeds ; eggs white. The young are hatched covered with down, and able to swim at once. All Grebes have a habit of eating their own feathers. No stones are found in the gizzard, and the feathers apparently are a substitute.
This family is very widely distributed and has been divided into several genera. The three Indian representatives may all be kept in one generic group, though the Little Grebe is generally separated.