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Greater Scaup

[ Canvasback ] [ Common Goldeneye ] [ Burrow's Goldeneye ]
[ Bufflehead ] [ Ferruginous ]   [ Smew ]
[ Greater Scaup ] [ Lesser Scaup ] [ Hooded Merganser ]
[ Rosy Billed Pochard ] [ Redhead Pochard ] [ Red Crested Pochard ]
[ Tufted ]



Breeding male bold black-and-white; female drabber and more brown with white patch at base of bill. It has a blue bill and yellow eyes. The male has a dark head with a green sheen, a black breast, a light back, a black tail and a white bottom. The adult female has a white band at the base of the bill and a brown head and body.
Medium-sized diving duck. Occasionally an older female Greater Scaup will have male-like head color and male patterning on her back, but she still has the typical white face patch of a female. 
Rounded head. 
Bill bluish with black tip. 
Male with black head, chest, and rear end, and gray sides (black on the ends and white in the middle). 
Female dull brown, with white patch on face at base of bill.

Size: 15-22 in
Wingspan: 28-31 in
Weight: M 1.8 lbs., F 1.6 lbs.


They typically breed near interior lakes, ponds, and sedge meadows. Deeper, more permanent wetlands are preferred. Lesser Scaup prefer wetland habitats with emergent vegetation, such as bulrushes, since they often harbor abundant populations of aquatic insect larvae. Females nest in close proximity to open water and lay an average of 9 eggs.
Once incubation begins, the male Greater Scaup leaves the female and goes to molt on some relatively large, isolated lake. These lakes are used year after year during molt, and may be in the immediate vicinity of the breeding wetlands or many miles away. They are relatively shallow and contain abundant food and suitable cover. 

The nest of a Greater Scaup is usually lined with a thick layer of down plucked by the mother from her own breast. Nests of poor-condition females may lack down and instead may contain small, grayish-white feathers plucked from beneath the outer body feathers. 


General Comments

The Greater Scaup is found primarily along the seacoast and on large bodies of water. Unlike its look-alike relative the Lesser Scaup, the Greater Scaup is found across Eurasia as well as North America. Lesser Scaup dive to feed on seeds of pondweeds, widgeon grass, wild rice, sedges, and bulrushes. They also feed on crustaceans, mollusks, aquatic insects, and small fishes.


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Greater Scaup Drake

Greater Scaup Hen

Greater Scaup Hen

Greater Scaup Hen and ducklings

Greater Scaup nest

Greater Scaup nest close up

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