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Greater Scaup Aythya marila


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Greater Scaup, adult male
credit: Calibas/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Anatidae, Ducks and Geese view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has green-glossed head and dark breast; both can look black in poor light. Belly and flanks are white and back is pale gray, palest toward front. Vent is black; note bright yellow eye. Eclipse plumage pattern recalls adult male, but pale elements are buffy gray. ADULT FEMALE Has mainly brown plumage, palest and grayest on flanks and back; white belly is seen in flight. Note striking white patch at base of bill. JUVENILE Similar to adult female.

Dimensions Length: 15-20" (38-51 cm)

Habitat Locally common. Nests on tundra marshes and pools, winters mainly on coasts or large lakes.

Observation Tips Easiest to observe in winter.

Range Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Plains, Western Canada, California, New England, Rocky Mountains, Florida, Northwest, Southwest, Eastern Canada, Alaska, Texas, Southeast

Voice Mostly silent.

Discussion Bulky, robust diving duck. Feeds on submerged roots, seeds, and invertebrates. Superficially similar to slightly smaller Lesser Scaup, but size is not always a useful means of field identification. Head shape is generally reliable in relaxed birds: rounded in Greater, but distinctly peaked in Lesser. In flight, more of the upper-wing flight feathers appear whitish in Greater than in Lesser. At close range, black tip to otherwise dark gray bill is more extensive in Greater than Lesser (hard to judge in field).