Little Grebe – bill colour variation

on 11th February 2019
#1 Little Gribe.

“Little Grebes (Tachybaptus ruficollis poggei) have colonised the peninsular since the 1950s and locally retain their ‘breeding’ plumage right through the year. I noticed a feature today that I had missed in the past. I saw a pair where one bird had an orange-pink upper and lower mandible (#1 above). The proximal part of the upper mandible was black.

#2 Little Grebe.

“Little Grebes are classical described as having a black bill; also note that the bill in adults often has a white tip (not mentioned in some sources) and there is a light yellow-white rictus (gape of mouth) in adults (see comparison in #2 above; adult with black beak #3 below; both birds #4 bottom).

#3 Little Grebe.

“I looked at other resources and there are number of Little Grebes in the OBI database with similar beak appearance, all labelled as adults or even adults in ‘breeding’ plumage. I wondered if this was a change from a juvenile to adult beak pattern but OBI even has a bird with such beak colouration feeding young (Santanu Chatterjee, January 2018). It could be that young adult birds (able to breed) but have delayed development of this adult beak colour.

#4. Little Grebes.

“Note that T. r. poggei is differentiated from other subspecies by the pale yellow eyes, among other features.

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
7th February 2019

Location: Malim Nawar Wetlands, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Extensive ex-tin mining area with pond/lakes, wetlands, fish farming

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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