The Great Crested Grebe is 46–51 centimetres (18–20 in) long with a 59–73 centimetres (23–29 in) wingspan. It is an excellent swimmer and diver, and pursues its fish prey underwater. The adults are unmistakable in summer with head and neck decorations. In winter, this is whiter than most grebes, with white above the eye, and a pink bill. It is the largest European grebe. The young are remarkable because their heads are striped black and white, much like zebras.
The adults teach these skills to their young by carrying them on their back and diving, leaving the chicks to float on the surface; they then re-emerge a few feet away so that the chicks may swim back onto them. The Crested Grebe feeds mainly on fish, but also little crustaceans, insects and small frogs. This species was hunted almost to extinction in the United Kingdom in the 19th century for its head plumes, which were used to decorate hats and ladies’ undergarments. The RSPB was set up to help protect this species, which is again a common sight.