Grebe's name reflects range

SPREAD: The Australasian grebe can be found in a number of countries.
SPREAD: The Australasian grebe can be found in a number of countries.

I have noticed that the bird I call little grebe is now called Australasian grebe. Does this mean that it is found in New Zealand too?

R.M., Mitchell Park.

Our Australasian, or little grebe, is indeed found beyond Australia, so “Australasian” is quite accurate, if slightly clumsy. The bird is actually rare in New Zealand, but is also found in New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands, Timor, New Guinea and the New Hebrides. It was once considered to be a form of the Old World little grebe, but now regarded as a species in its own right, being different in a few minor respects.

New Zealand has another small grebe called the New Zealand dabchick: it is slightly larger and darker, without the Australasian grebe’s rufous neck stripe and yellow face spot in spring and summer.

  • Questions and photos are welcome. Send to Roger Thomas at The Courier, PO Box 21, Ballarat, 3353, or email to rthomas@vic.australis.com.au