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thumbnail Red-necked grebes during breeding season
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Red-necked grebes during breeding season © Edo van Uchelen/Minden Pictures
The red-necked grebe has a bit of a split personality—in fact, it only lives up to its name about half the year. Its feathers are not red but brambly brown and gray throughout the winter, when it lives a low-key, quiet life in salt water along North American and European coasts. But just before it migrates to a northerly lake, pond, or swamp for breeding season, the plumage around the grebe"s throat turns a distinctive rust-red. Both males and females undergo the plumage change.