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66. Madagascar Grebe

Tachybaptus pelzelnii


Grebes are a distinct lineage with no close relatives, the fossil record is incomplete but true grebes first appear around 25–35 million years ago.

They come from the only taxonomic family within the order Podicipediformes, which date back at least 25-35 million years.

The Masagascar Grebe is a small grebe with distinctive facial pattern. Reddish eye, black bill with slight whitish tip and is often on small lakes and forested wetlands, where it is easily missed, but also on larger water bodies, including rivers, where it may be found among fringing vegetation.

The population is estimated to be only 2000 individuals although it is thought that the population has been difficult to find for a while. Given there is some uncertainty, and that these are only rough estimates, the population size has been placed here in the range 1,000-2,499 mature individuals.

The main threat to the Madagascar grebe is the reduction of habitat size and quality. With the increase in fertilisers being used in agriculture, freshwater systems in Madagascar are being degraded. This species is vulnerable to getting caught in monofilament gill-nets. The introduction of exotic fish represents another threat where the Grebe’s are predated by carnivorous fish.

Currently the Madagascar Grebe is recorded in 6 protected areas, but only small populations reside. Further actions to increase the number of occupied sites that have protected status, reduce bycatch by working with local communities.

  • Order: Podicipediformes
  • Family: Podicipedidae
  • Population: 1,000-2,499
  • Trend: stable
  • Size: 25cm

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 5.12 (?)
ED Score: 19.85 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


This species is found in Madagascar and is reasonably common in western and central Madagascar, with pairs or individuals on many small lakes.

Habitat and Ecology

This species is sedentary (does not migrate) but will disperse in search of suitable habitat. Breeding has been observed during the months of August to March at this time breeding pairs are territorial, and groups of 150 individuals have been recorded. The Madagascar Grebe’s nest is a floating structure of aquatic plants, anchored to offshore vegetation with a clutch-size is 3-4. Breeding was recorded year-round but is likely seasonal at a given site.

The species was thought to prefer shallow, freshwater lakes and pools, with a dense covering of lily-pads, but has also been found in several much deeper lakes. The Madagascar Grebe probably feeds mainly on insects but is also known to take small fish and crustaceans.

Find out more

Loading species distribution map...

This wordcloud illustrates the threats facing this species. The size of each word indicates the extent of a species range that is affected by that threat (larger size means a greater area is affected). The colour of the word indicates how much that threat impacts the species (darker shades of red mean the threat is more severe).

Crops Agriculture Fishing

Threat wordcloud key:

Small area affected
Large area affected
Least severe
Most severe
Severity unknown
Source: The IUCN List of Threatened Species. Version 2017.1.
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