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The information presented here is identical to that contained in the fifth edition of the Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand (Checklist Committee 2022). To access a pdf version of the Checklist click here.

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Family PODICIPEDIDAE Bonaparte: Grebes

Podicepinae [sic] Bonaparte, 1831: Saggio dist. Metodica Anim. Vert.: 62 – Type genus Podiceps Latham.

Genus Podiceps Latham

Podiceps Latham, 1787: Gen. Synop. Birds Suppl. 1: 294 – Type species (by subsequent designation) Colymbus cristatus Linnaeus = Podiceps cristatus (Linnaeus).

Lophaithyia Kaup, 1829: Skizz. Entw.-Gesch. Eur. Thierw.: 72 – Type species (by subsequent designation) Colymbus cristatus Linnaeus = Podiceps cristatus (Linnaeus).

Podicipes Oken, 1839: Isis von Oken: col. 673. Unjustified emendation.

Lophaethyia Agassiz, 1846: Nomen. Zool. Index Univ. Aves 2: 990. Unjustified emendation.

 Podiceps cristatus (Linnaeus)
Great Crested Grebe

Colymbus cristatus Linnaeus, 1758: Syst. Nat., 10th edition 1: 135 – Europe, restricted to Sweden (fide Linnaeus 1761, Fauna Svecica, 2nd edition: 53).

Three subspecies: P. c. cristatus in Palaearctic, P. c. infuscatus Salvadori, 1844 in Africa south of the Sahara, and P. c. australis in Australia and New Zealand.

Podiceps cristatus australis Gould
Australasian Crested Grebe | Pūteketeke

Podiceps australis Gould, 1844: Birds of Australia, Part 17 – Australia and Tasmania (fide McAllan 2004, Notornis 51: 125).

Podiceps hectori Buller, 1865: Essay N.Z. Ornith.: 19 – Lake Wakatipu.

Podiceps Hectori Buller; Finsch 1867, Journ. für Ornith. 15: 345.

Podiceps cristatus; Anon. 1870, Cat. Colonial Mus.: 75. Not Colymbus cristatus Linnaeus, 1758.

Podicipes cristatus; Hutton 1904, Index Faunae N.Z.: 36. Not Colymbus cristatus Linnaeus, 1758.

Lophaethyia cristata; Buller 1905, Suppl. Birds N.Z. 1: 76. Not Colymbus cristatus Linnaeus, 1758.

Lophaethyria [sic] cristata; Hamilton 1909, Hand-list Birds New Zealand: 4. Not Colymbus cristatus Linnaeus, 1758.

Podiceps cristatus christiani Mathews, 1911: Birds Australia 1: 267, pl. 64 – Victoria, Australia.

Podiceps cristatus australis Gould; Mathews & Iredale 1913, Ibis 1 (10th series): 218.

Australia (mainly south-east and south-west) and New Zealand. No genetic differentiation was found between Australian and New Zealand populations (B. Robertson & Gemmell 2002). In New Zealand, breeding South Island only; lowland lakes west of the Southern Alps / Kā Tiritiri o te Moana; subalpine and alpine lakes within and east of the main ranges, with the greatest density in Canterbury (C. Robertson et al. 2007). After a decline in Nelson, Marlborough, Otago, and Southland has recolonised Marlborough (Westerskov 1972; Sagar 1981), increased in Southern Lakes District and around Christchurch, but decreased in Fiordland (C. Robertson et al. 2007). Some local movement between lakes, but seldom reported from salt water (Sagar & O’Donnell 1982). North Island: few acceptable records since European colonisation (Westerskov 1972). One at Rotorua, Dec. 1975 to Jun. 1976 (Palliser 1976, 1977). Late Holocene records from Whakamoenga Cave, Lake Taupo, and Lake Poukawa. Three North Island midden records (Tairua, Taupo, Paremata); only one South Island record (Lake Grassmere / Kapara Te Hau, dune or midden).

Genus Poliocephalus Selby

Poliocephalus Selby, 1840: Cat. Genera Subgen. Types Aves: 47 – Type species (by monotypy) Podiceps poliocephalus Jardine & Selby = Poliocephalus poliocephalus (Jardine & Selby).

 Poliocephalus rufopectus (G.R. Gray)
New Zealand Dabchick | Weweia

Podiceps (Poliocephelus) [sic] rufopectus G.R. Gray, 1843: in E. Dieffenbach, Travels in N.Z. 2: 198 – North Island.

Fulica novaezelandiae Colenso, 1844: London Journ. Botany 3: 54 – “A little below Ngaruawahie” = Ngaruawahia, Waikato.

Fulica nova-zealandiae Colenso, 1845: Tasm. Journ. Nat. Sci. Agric. 2: 283 – “A little below Ngaruawahie” = Ngaruawahia, Waikato.

Podiceps rufopectus G.R. Gray; Ellman 1861, Zoologist 19: 7471.

Podiceps rufipectus G.R. Gray; G.R. Gray 1862, Ibis 4: 242. Unjustified emendation.

Podicipes rufipectus G.R. Gray; Hutton 1904, Index Faunae N.Z.: 36. Unjustified emendation.

Poliocephalus rufopectus (G.R. Gray); Mathews & Iredale 1913, Ibis 1 (10th series): 218.

Podiceps rufopectus G.R. Gray; Checklist Committee 1953, Checklist N.Z. Birds: 16.

New Zealand only. North Island: coastal and sand-dune lakes from North Cape (Otou) to lower Waikato; southern Taranaki to Paraparaumu; lakes and dams of Volcanic Plateau south to Lakes Rotopounamu and Rotoaira; lakes and dams of Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, and Wairarapa, with post-nuptial flocks forming especially in Wairarapa and Manawatu (Stidolph & Heather 1978; Lusk & Lusk 1981). South Island: formerly sparingly distributed on lowland lakes, but declined rapidly in the 19th Century; last proved breeding early 1940s (Eglinton Valley); a single record between 1950 and 2000 (Lake Elterwater, Jun. 1987), presumably a vagrant from the North Island (Heather 1988). Numerous records from Golden Bay, Tasman Bay, and Marlborough since 2006 (Scofield 2008; Miskelly et al. 2011, 2013, 2015; Miskelly, Crossland et al. 2017, 2019, 2021). Breeding confirmed at Takaka in 2012 and 2018 (Petyt 2013; Miskelly, Crossland et al. 2021) and likely near Seddon in 2015 (Miskelly, Crossland et al. 2017). The southernmost record was one (possibly two) at Pegasus wetland, North Canterbury, May 2020 (Miskelly, Crossland et al. 2021). Holocene remains from one North Island site (Poukawa) and three South Island sites (Lake Grassmere / Kapara Te Hau, Waikari Cave, Pyramid Valley); one midden record (Whakamoenga Cave, Taupo). Storer (1971, 1987) considered the New Zealand dabchick to be closely related to the Australian hoary-headed grebe P. poliocephalus, and that the two differ both in behaviour and in morphology from the “true” dabchicks or little grebes (Tachybaptus). However, the relationship is not here considered close enough to be subspecific.

 Poliocephalus poliocephalus (Jardine & Selby)
Hoary-headed Grebe | Taihoropī

Podiceps poliocephalus Jardine & Selby, 1827: Illust. Ornith. 1: pl. 13 and text – New South Wales, Australia.

Podiceps nestor Gould, 1837: Synop. Birds Australia 1: pl. 19 – New South Wales and Tasmania, Australia.

Podiceps poliocephalus cloatesi Mathews, 1912: Novit. Zool. 18(3): 197 – Point Cloates, Western Australia.

Poliocephalus poliocephalus (Jardine & Selby); Checklist Committee 1990, Checklist Birds N.Z.: 11.

Australia, mostly south of 25°S, and including Tasmania; an irregular visitor elsewhere throughout much of Australia (Marchant & Higgins 1990). First New Zealand records: Boat Harbour, Snares Islands / Tini Heke, one, Feb. 1975; Lake Horowhenua, one, Jul. 1975; Te Anau district, two, Nov. 1975 (H. Best 1976). One, then two, pairs bred in Southland, 1976 to 1978 (Barlow 1976); breeding unknown in North Island. Widely scattered sightings in 1977–78, mostly of single birds, in North and South Islands north to Aupouri Peninsula (Marchant & Higgins 1990). Few records 1979–2012, with eight accepted South Island records since then: Big Lagoon, Southland, May 2012 (Miskelly et al. 2013); Lake Hakapoua, Fiordland, Feb. 2013 (Miskelly, Crossland et al. 2017); three birds, Lake Elterwater, Marlborough, Aug. 2014, with subsequent records there in Jan. 2018 and Jul. 2019 (Miskelly, Crossland et al. 2015, 2019, 2021); Bromley, Christchurch, May 2015; 2 birds, Lake Ellesmere / Te Waihora, Jun. 2018 (Miskelly, Crossland et al. 2019). An adult with two chicks photographed at Lake Elterwater in Nov. 2019 (images by Scott Brooks on New Zealand Birds Online, viewed 24 Jun. 2021).

Genus Tachybaptus Reichenbach

Tachybaptus Reichenbach, 1849: Avium Syst. Nat.: pl. 2 – Type species (by monotypy) Colymbus minor = Tachybaptus ruficollis (Pallas).

This genus includes four Eastern Hemisphere species: T. novaehollandiae, T. ruficollis (Pallas, 1764), T. pelzelnii (Hartlaub, 1861) and T. rufolavatus (Delacour, 1932) (see Storer 1963).

 Tachybaptus novaehollandiae (Stephens)
Eastern Little Grebe

Indonesia, New Guinea, New Caledonia, New Hebrides, Solomon Islands, Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand (Marchant & Higgins 1990). Seven subspecies.

Tachybaptus novaehollandiae novaehollandiae (Stephens)
Australasian Little Grebe | Tokitokipio

Podiceps Novae Hollandiae Stephens, 1826: in Shaw, General Zool. 13(1): 18 – New South Wales, Australia.

Podiceps gularis Gould, 1837: Synop. Birds Australia 1: pl. 19 – New South Wales, Australia.

Podiceps fluviatilis carterae Mathews, 1912: Novit. Zool. 18(3): 197 – Broome Hill, south-western Australia.

Podiceps fluviatilis parryi Mathews, 1912: Novit. Zool. 18(3): 197 – Parry’s Creek, Western Australia.

Tachybaptus novaehollandiae novaehollandiae (Stephens); Checklist Committee 1990, Checklist Birds N.Z.: 12.

Australia (mainly north, south-west, and east, including Tasmania) (Marchant & Higgins 1990). First New Zealand records: one near Arrowtown, 1968 (Chance 1969); a pair near Dargaville, 1972, attempted breeding (P. Miller 1973); Lake Okareka, one, 1973 (Lyle 1973). North Island: by early 1980s, breeding on small sheltered ponds from Aupouri Peninsula to southern Kaipara, forming small flocks in autumn. Then apparently declined, with breeding reports of a pair on Lake Kereta, south Kaipara, and perhaps elsewhere in Northland (Lauder 1978). More recently a significant expansion in range has occurred with records between 1999 and 2004 in 40 atlas squares from the Far North to Manawatu (C. Robertson et al. 2007). Breeding regularly between Whangarei and North Auckland (Beauchamp 2019), with isolated records from Lake Mangamahoe, Taranaki, Dec. 2018 and May 2019 (Miskelly, Crossland et al. 2021). South Island: pairs or family parties seen until mid-1990s on at least eight widely scattered small lakes from Elterwater (Marlborough) to Redcliff (Southland), and on both sides of the Southern Alps / Kā Tiritiri o te Moana (Marchant & Higgins 1990; Miskelly et al. 2015). Has declined since 2000, with none currently known to be breeding in South Island. South Island records since 2004 from Harewood, Christchurch, Apr. 2004; two birds, The Levels, Timaru, Apr. 2007; St Annes Lagoon, Cheviot, Apr. 2018; Takaka, Jun. 2018; and Lake Benmore, Sep. 2020 (Miskelly, Crossland et al. 2013, 2015, 2019, 2021).