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Related to Podicipediformes: Ciconiiformes, Procellariiformes, Phoenicopteriformes
(grebes), an order of aquatic birds with a body length of 23 to 60 cm. The dense plumage is dark above and white or, less frequently, gray or rusty on the abdomen. The wings are short, and the tail is rudimentary. The legs are placed far back, the tarsi are laterally compressed, and the toes are webbed. The birds swim and dive well but walk poorly.
The order has one family, embracing four genera with 20 species. The birds are widely distributed and are absent only in polar regions and on some ocean islands. The USSR has five species: the great-crested grebe (P. cristatus), the red-necked grebe (P. griseigena), P. ouritis, the eared grebe (P. caspicus), and the little grebe (P. ruficollis). In northern regions the birds are migratory and often winter on seas and coastal waters. They nest in freshwaters, mainly lakes, and build nests from aquatic plants that float or grow in the shallows. A clutch contains two to eight dirty white eggs, which are incubated by both the male and female for 20 to 25 days. The nestlings are covered with whitish down with dark stripes and spots. The parents often carry their young on their backs or under their wings while they swim.
Grebes feed on small fishes and aquatic invertebrates; some eat their own plumage. The flesh is not edible. The birds are sometimes hunted commercially for the abdominal plumage, which is thick and silky.
A. I. IVANOV