Clark's grebes were once thought to a lighter coloured variation or morph of the western grebe rather than a separate species. Both species are found in north America, often together, and they perform similar spectacular and elaborate courtship displays involving mate feeding and rushing though there is little interbreeding. They build floating nests of vegetation in freshwater wetlands and marshy areas and use a dagger-like bill for catching fish while diving underwater.
Scientific name: Aechmophorus clarkii
Clark's grebes reaffirm their commitment through dance.
On the lakes of Oregon, USA, a pair of Clark's grebes dance a watery waltz in perfect synchonicity. Only stopping so that the female can have a quick fish supper, the two bring their stunning routine to an end with a gravity-defying move that sees them lifting their bodies out of the water, and strutting along on the surface.
Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.
The Clark's grebe can be found in a number of locations including: North America. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.
The following habitats are found across the Clark's grebe distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Year assessed: 2009
Classified by: IUCN 3.1
Clark's Grebe (Aechmophorus clarkii) is a North American species in the grebe family. Until the 1980s, it was thought to be a pale morph of the Western Grebe, which it resembles in size, range, and behavior. Intermediates between the two species are known.
The "Clark" of its common name—and its specific epithet "clarkii"—honor John Henry Clark, a 19th-century American surveyor who was also a naturalist and collector. The genus name Aechmophorus comes from the Ancient Greek words "aichme", meaning spear, and "phoros", meaning someone who bears things around; it refers to the bird's long, daggerlike beak.
This species nests on large inland lakes in western North America and migrates to the Pacific coast in winter. It maintains local populations year-round in California, Nevada, Arizona-(the Lower Colorado River Valley), and central Mexico. It feeds by diving for carp, herring, mollusks, crabs, and salamanders.
It performs the same elaborate courtship display as the Western Grebe.
Take a trip through the natural world with our themed collections of video clips from the natural history archive.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.