This small grebe is mainly a prairie breeder wintering on both coasts, but sometimes does breed in Ontario, especially in the west, and is fairly common in migration.
A few have wintered in southern Ontario.
They are more apt to occur on small lakes and ponds than the Red-necked Grebe but are also found on the Great Lakes.
In breeding dress the black head, with fiery red eyes and jaunty golden “horns” running back from the eyes to the angle where crown and nape come together, is quite distinctive.
The somewhat similar Eared Grebe is a prairie bird, exceedingly rare in Ontario waters and differs from the Horned Grebe in having a black neck (not red), a more diffused patch of orange extending well below the eye and a more slender upturned bill.
In winter plumage the Horned Grebe may be distinguished from the Red-necked Grebe by its much smaller size (smaller than most of the winter ducks) and from the Eared Grebe by its much whiter cheeks and front of the neck (which tend to be gray in the Eared Grebe). Again the bill shape is distinctive.
Dr. J. Murray Speirs