Lesser Scaup is a medium-sized diving duck. Slight bump or peak
on back of head. Bill bluish with small black tip. Male with
black head, chest, and rear end, and gray sides (black on the
ends and white in the middle). 15-18 1/2" (38-47 cm). Dark
brown breast, rump, tail, and head with yellow eyes; bluish gray
bill with black tip. Gray scaled back; white flanks. Females
have brown mottled flanks, brown breast, and white facial patch
at base of bill. Wingspan:
68-78 cm (27-31 in). Weight: 454-1089 g (16.03-38.44 ounces).
migration and when not breeding, these ducks are found along
the coast in sheltered bays, estuaries, and marshes, or inland
on lakes, ponds, and rivers; found on saltwater especially if
lakes and ponds are frozen. In southern winter range, prefers
freshwater ponds, lakes, and sloughs with reasonably clear water
1 m or more deep.
of the breeding season, Greater Scaup form large flocks or rafts,
numbering in the thousands. In tidal waters, they tend to face
up-current. While individuals may drift downstream, birds from
the back of the flock fly to the front, maintaining the raft
in the same position. A diver, the Greater Scaup catches its
food under water, but eats it on the surface. Occasionally scaups
forage at or near the water’s surface as well.
consists of about equal amounts of plant and animal food. Feeds
on seeds of pondweeds, wigeon grass, wild rice, sedges, and bulrushes.
Also eats crustaceans, mollusks, and aquatic insects.
begins early May in sourthern range, to mid-June in north. clutch
size varies from 6-15 eggs, but is usually 9-12 (older females
lay largest clutches). Female incubates eggs (incubation lasts
22-27 days) and tends young. A variable percentage of yearling
females do not breed.
Breeds from Alaska and parts of Canada,
south to northern Idaho, northern Wyoming, northern North Dakota,
and Minnesota, and casually or irregularly to western Washington,
northeastern California, southern Idaho, northeastern Colorado,
and parts of Midwest. Winters from southern Alaska, east to New
England, and south through southern Idaho, Utah, northeastern
Colorado, parts of Midwest, and southern U.S., to northern Colombia.
mostly in freshwater 1-2 m deep. Builds nest on ground, close
to water; occasionally nests over water. In Idaho, prefers marshes
for nesting, and open reservoirs and large rivers during migration
and in winter.