The Hooded Grebe (Podiceps GallardoI), discovered in 1954, is a freshwater bird found in isolated lakes in the Patagonian steppe at elevations higher than 700 meters above sea level in very cold and windy areas during the summer; while in the winter it moves to the coast. It feeds on aquatic invertebrates that it is able to catch thanks to its ability to dive and swim. In just over thirty areas, its population has decreased from 8,000 individual birds to just a few hundred residents. Two of the factors that pose the greatest threat to the survival of the Hooded Grebe are the invasion of its habitat by the Dominican Gull and the introduction of trout. Also, the large dams that are being built in the region could have a negative impact on the populations of Hooded Grebe, but it is still too early to determine.
The key to prevent its extinction seems to lie in rearing more individual birds of the species. To study the most appropriate rearing conditions, a breeding and raising center was set up, with modern incubators and an Intermediate Care Unit.
In 2015, there were 128 individual birds more than in previous seasons. The report also shows that at least 134 chicks, i.e. 50 more than in previous seasons, survived in active colonies.
For the first time, individual birds marked in previous seasons have been observed and recorded in nesting areas, and this data facilitates the study of migrations. Also, for the first time, the implementation of a Captive Breeding Program resulted in the rearing of a Silvery Grebe and its subsequent release into the wild.
After three years of negotiations, Patagonia’s National Park was finally set up in January 2015 to preserve part of the steppe of the Buenos Aires Lake, the Hooded Grebe populations that inhabit the area during the breeding season and many other species of migratory shorebirds.