This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
The Little Grebe or Dabchick (Podiceps fluviatilis or minor), Fig 41, left hand, included in the family Colymbidae or Divers and subfamily Podicepinae, has the head, back of the neck and upper surface of the body very dark brown, almost black; cheeks, sides, and upper front part of the neck reddish chestnut; under-surface dull greyish white. Its length is 9½ in. It frequents rushy or reedy lakes or streams, and in winter resorts to the mouth of rivers and bays. It builds a large flat nest of aquatic plants, and lays four to six white eggs, which soon become stained with greenish-yellow and brown. The food consists of small fishes, water-insects, shrimps, fish-fry, and vegetable substance.
Fig. 41. - The Little Grebe or Dabchick (left hand), and Water-hen (right hand).
The Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) is found in some of the fens of England and also inhabits parts of Scotland and Ireland. It is less common in England than the little grebe. The length of the bird is 21 to 22 in., and the crest feathers and top of the head are dark brown; cheeks, white; ear-tufts, reddish-chestnut, becoming dark chestnut at the ends. The skin of this grebe is made into muffs and trimmings for ladies' dress. The nest is built of decayed Water plants almost level with the water, and is generally wet. The eggs are white and usually four in number. The old birds in case of danger take their young under their wings and dive below the water. The food of the crested grebe is similar to that of the lesser grebe, both of which cover up the eggs, like the water-hen, when leaving the nest.