Podilymbus gigas Griscom, 1929:5

Atitlán grebe, Atitlán giant grebe, Giant pied-billed grebe, La poc (local name)



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Podilymbus podiceps gigas Griscom, 1929:5


Conservation Status


Last record: 1983 or later; 1986 (Tyrberg, 2009:61Hume & Walters, 2012:65)

IUCN RedList status: Extinct


The often reported last record of the Atitlán Grebe is 1986 (e.g. Hume & Walters, 2012:65). However, extensive personal observations by (Hunter, 1988) in 1986-7 failed to observe a single individual on Lake Atitlán, to which it was apparently endemic. In addition, three individuals of P. podiceps, all male, manifested possible signs of hybridization with P. gigas (i.e. heavier weight and larger bills than expected for P. podiceps) (Ibid.).



Lake Atitlán, Guatemala


Biology & Ecology










Original scientific description:

Griscom, L. (1929). Studies from  the Dwight collection of Guatemala birds. American  Museum Novitates 379: 1-13.


Other references:

Anonymous. (1964). List of rare birds, including those thought to be so but of which detailed information is still lacking. IUCN Bulletin 10(Special Supplement): 4 pp.

BirdLife International (2000) Threatened Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, Barcelona and Cambridge.

BirdLife International. (2012). Podilymbus gigas. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. ( Downloaded on 18 March 2013.

BirdLife International. 2016. Podilymbus gigas. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22696577A93572322. Downloaded on 27 June 2021.

Bowes, Anne LaBastille and Bowes, C. V., Jr. (1962). Recent Census and Observations of the Giant Pied-Billed Grebe of Guatemala. The Auk 79(4): 707-709.

Brooks, T. 2000. Extinct species. In: BirdLife International (ed.), Threatened Birds of the World, pp. 701-708. Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, Barcelona and Cambridge, U.K.

Collar, N. J.; Crosby, M. J.; Stattersfield, A. J. 1994. Birds to watch 2: the world list of threatened birds. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.

Fuller, Errol. (2013). Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Griscom, L. (1932). The Distribution of Bird-Life in Guatemala. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 64: 1-431.

Howell, S. N. G.; Webb, S. 1995. A guide to the birds of Mexico and northern Central America. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Hume, Julian Pender and Walters, Michael. (2012). Extinct Birds. London: T & AD Poyser. 544 pp.

Hume, JP. (2017) Extinct Birds 2nd Edition

Hunter, Laurie A. (1988). Status of the endemic Atitlán grebe of Gutemala: is it extinct? The Condor 90(4): 906-912.

Knox, Alan G. and Walters, Michael P. (1994). Extinct and endangered birds in the collections of The Natural History Museum. British Ornithologists' Club Occasional Publications 1: 1-292.

LaBastille, Anne. (1964). Ecological investigation of the Giant Pied-billed Grebe of Guatemala. Bulletin for the International Committee for Bird Preservation 5.

LaBastille, Anne. (1965). An ecological investigation of the Giant Pied-billed Grebe, [i]Podilymbus gigas[/i] Griscom Bull. Brit. Orn. Club 85: 14-19.

LaBastille, Anne. (1969). The life history, ecology and management of the Giant Pied-billed Grebe ([i]Podilymbus gigas[/i]), Lake Atitlán, Guatemala. Ph.D. Thesis, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, N.Y.

LaBastille, Anne. (1974). Ecology and Management of the Atitlán Grebe, Lake Atitlán, Guatemala. Wildlife Monographs 37: 3-66. [1-66?]

LaBastille, Anne. (1978). Management of the Giant Pied-billed Grebes on lake Atitlán, Guatemala, pp. 397-402. In: Temple, S. A. (ed.). Endangered birds: Management techniques for preserving threatened species. Univ. Wisconsin Press, Madison.

LaBastille, Anne. (1983a). The Guatemalan Giant Grebe: Is there any hope?, pp. 485-493. In: Proceedings of the Jean Delacour/ ICBP Symposium on breeding birds in captivity. International Foundation for the Conservation of Birds, North Hollywood, California.

LaBastille, Anne. (1983b). Goodbye, Giant Grebe? Natural History 92: 64-72.

LaBastille, Anne. (1983c). Drastic decline in Guatemala's giant pied-billed grebe population. Environmental Conservation 10(4): 346-348. [Abstract] [vol. 11?]

LaBastille, Anne. (1990). And now they are gone. International Wildlife 20(4): 18-23. [[url=]Abstract[/url]]

LaBastille, Anne. (1991). Mama Poc: An Ecologist's Account of the Extinction of a Species. W. W. Norton and Company, 320 pp.

LaBastille, Anne. (1992). The Giant Grebes of Atitlán. A Chronicle of extinction. Living Bird Quarterly 11: 10-15.

LaBastille, Anne. (1994). Birds of the Maya: a chain of disasters in Lake Atitlan, Guatamala. Geographical Magazine 66:19-22.

LaBastille, Anne. (1996a). Los zambullidores gigantes de Atitlan. Boletin SAO 7(12):44-50.

LaBastille, Anne. (1996). Too Late for the Giant Grebe. Wild Earth 6(3): 63.

LaBastille, Anne and Bowes, C.V. (1962). Recent census and observations of the Giant Pied-billed Grebe. Auk 79: 707-709.

LaBastille, Anne, Ovidio, J. and Bauer, E. (1973). Census in April 1972 of the Atitlán Grebe ([i]Podilymbus gigas[/i]), Guatemala. Biological Conservation 5: 62-63.

Livezey, B. C. 1989. Flightlessness in grebes (Aves: Podicipedidae): its independent evolution in three genera. Evolution 43: 29-53.

Powers, James E. and LaBastille-Bowes, Anne. (1967). Elimination of fish in the Giant Grebe Refuge, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, using the fish toxicant, antimycin. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 96(2): 210-213. [Abstract]

Salvin, O. (1904). In: Salvin, O. and Godman, F. D. (eds.). Biologia Centrali-Americana, volume 3. London: Taylor & Francis.

Sayol, Ferran, Steinbauer, Manuel J., Blackburn, Tim M., Antonelli, Alexandre and Faurby, Søren. (2020). Anthropogenic extinctions conceal widespread evolution of flightlessness in birds. Science Advances 6(49): eabb6095. [Supplementary Material (Data File S1)]

Scott, Peter (ed.). (1965). Preliminary List of Rare Mammals and Birds, pp. 155-237. In: The Launching of a New Ark. First Report of the President and Trustees of the World Wildlife Fund. An International Foundation for saving the world's wildlife and wild places 1961-1964. London: Collins.

Tyrberg, Tommy. (2009). Holocene avian extinctions, pp. 63-106. In: Turvey, Samuel T. (ed.). Holocene Extinctions. Oxford, UK & New York, USA: Oxford University Press. xii + 352 pp.


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