Australasian Crested Grebe, Bernard Spragg Photo
The Australasian crested grebe is majestic and distinctive diving bird that is usually seen on the southern lakes of New Zealand where it breeds. It has a slender neck, sharp black bill and head with a distinctive black double crest and bright chestnut and black cheek frills, which it uses in its complex and bizarre mating displays. It is unusual for the way it carries its young on its back when swimming. The crested grebe belongs to an ancient order of diving water birds found on every continent in the world. They are rarely seen on land except when they clamber onto their nests on the lake shore. The Australasian crested grebe occurs in New Zealand and Australia but it is threatened in both countries and the New Zealand population probably numbers fewer than 600 birds.