Hooded Grebe
(Podiceps gallardoi)
Discovered in 1974 the Hooded Grebe is found in regions across Argentina and possibly Chile. It has experienced a decline of over 80% in the past 26 years and there are thought to be less than 1,000 left. The lake where the species was originally discovered is now a protected area although it currently only has a marginal population. Once thought to be naturally protected due to the remoteness of their habitat, they now appear to be threatened by human activities such as fishing.
Urgent Conservation Actions
Increase research and monitoring of the species to understand its ecology, which can then be used to develop a species action plan. Study of the main threats (American mink, Rainbow trout and climate change).
Interior regions of Argentina with some records from Chile. The only known wintering grounds are on the Atlantic coast.
This bird was first discovered in 1974.
Associated Blog Posts
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Media from ARKive
Arkive image - Hooded grebe
Arkive image - Hooded grebes swimming in a basaltic lake
Arkive image - Hooded grebe in hand, head detail
Arkive image - Hooded grebe calling
Arkive image - Hooded grebe feeding group, resting after a dive which they carry out in synchorny
Arkive image - Hooded grebes among dense vegetation where they usually nest
Arkive image - Hooded grebe presenting plant in courtship display
Arkive image - Part of a hooded grebe courtship display
Arkive image - Courting hooded grebes, assuming posture for a penguin dance
Arkive image - Pair of hooded grebes on nest made from plant material
Arkive image - Typical breeding lagoon for hooded grebe
Evolutionary Distinctiveness
Order: Podicipediformes
Family: Podicipedidae
The order Podicipediformes is made up of a single family the Podicipedidae, which contains 22 extant species of grebes. Grebes are a distinct lineage with no close relatives. Originally they were considered to be close relatives of loons due to morphological similarities. A recent study looked at genetic data and found that grebes are more closely related to flamingos. The fossil record is incomplete but true grebes first appear in the fossil records around 25-35 million years ago.
The tree below shows the evolutionary relationships between this species and all other birds. The colours of the tree indicate EDGE scores with the red shades indicating the higher priority species; the bright red leaves correspond to the top 100 EDGE bird species. Further information on every species can be found by zooming in to its leaf on the tree.
The hooded grebe can be identified by its black head with a white forehead and reddish peaked forecrown. Its body is primarily white with very dark grey/black back which extends up the neck towards the head.

The breeding season is from October to March when it can be found in colonies of up to 130 pairs. During the breeding season hooded grebes occupy basaltic lakes in the Patagonian highland plateaus, between 500 and 1,500m in altitude. The breeding lakes must feature aquatic vegetation where P. gallardoi can build floating nests. The reproductive output of hooded grebes is very low, with an average of 0.2 young reared per adult per year. Their diet consists mainly of aquatic invertebrates.

The hooded grebe is found in basaltic lakes during breeding season. Currently the only recorded wintering sites are estuaries on the Atlantic coast of Argentina.
The population appears to be found predominantly in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz, Argentina. The lakes used for breeding are found in the interior of the state whilst the hooded grebe can be found wintering at three estuaries on the Atlantic coast. There are some records of hooded grebes in Southern Chile but this is thought to be accidental.
Population Estimate
600 – 800 mature individuals
Population Trend
Critically Endangered
The primary threats facing the Hooded Grebe appear to be climate change and the introduction of alien fish species into lakes in the species’ range. The introduction of trout into private lakes in the region has been correlated with the decline in hooded grebe breeding numbers. There are also many other potential threats such as excessive grazing by sheep, predation by kelp gulls however the extent of these are not fully understood and it is possible that the species’ life history strategy has adapted to these conditions. A fairly recently detected threat is the invasive American mink, that preys on adults and young.
Conservation Underway
Laguna Los Escarchados, the lake where the species was first discovered, was declared a reserve in 1979, although now it only features a small population that has almost disappeared. The two most important lakes for the species, that holds c. 50% of the populations had been recently declared part of the new Patagonia National Park in Buenos Aires plateau. Two NGOs, Aves Argentinas (Birdlife Int. partner) and the local Ambiente Sur, are working on a long-term conservation project. Those NGOs are conducting management plans of exotic or invasive species (American mink and Kelp Gull) and they are starting to develop joint actions with fisheries to control de-stocking of trout on important lakes. A broad education and communication program had been developed in Patagonia.
Conservation Proposed
Establish a better understanding of key wintering and breeding sites and population movement through surveys and studies. Raise awareness of the impacts of introduced fish with locals.
Fjeldså, J. (1986) Feeding ecology and possible life history tactics of the Hooded Grebe Podiceps gallardoi. Ardea 74: 40-58.

Beltran, J.; Bertonatti, C.; Johnson, A.; Serret, A. and Sutton, P. (1992). Actualizaciones sobre la distribución, biología y estado de conservación del Macá Tobiano (Podiceps gallardoi). Hornero, 13: 193–199.

Imberti, S.; Sturzenbaun, S. M. and McNamara, M. (2004). Actualización de la distribución invernal del macá tobiano (Podiceps gallardoi) y notas sobre su problemática de conservación. Honero, 19: 83–89.

Roesler, I.; Imberti, S.; Casañas, H.; Mahler, B. and Reboreda, J. C. (2012) Hooded Grebe Podiceps gallardoi population decreased by eighty per cent in the last twenty-five years. Bird Conservation International, 22: 371–382.

Roesler, I., Imberti, S., Casañas, H. & Volpe, N. (2012) A new threat for the globally Endangered Hooded Grebe Podiceps gallardoi: the American mink Neovison vison. Bird Conservation International 22: 383–388
Text compiled by Jack Stewart. Factchecked by Ignacio Roesler.

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