Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
A water bird similar in its size to mallard ducks, but with a significantly more slender silhouette. The feature that distinguishes it from ducks is its long, pointed beak. In the breeding season it can be easily identified by the crest on its head (hence the name) and a reddish-black collar (i.e. ruff). It inhabits water bodies which at least at the shores have a reed belt. At the beginning of the mating season the birds mate and perform long, complicated mating dances. The nests, built on the water, form rafts made of sticks, stems and leaves of plants. Often one can see grebes carry on their backs their chicks with distinctive black and white stripes on the head and the neck. Little grebes can indeed swim well, but on the water they are exposed, among others, to attacks of large predatory fish. This species is highly piscivorous. It dives frequently and efficiently, each time spending under water approx. 30 seconds. Moreover, it has a habit of swallowing its feathers, probably to protect the gastrointestinal tract from injury by fishbones, as well as to facilitate the binding and excretion of so called pellets.