Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
© Calibas/Wikimedia Commons (CC 2.5)

Greater Scaup

Greater Scaup
Aythya marila
Duck-like Birds | Family: Ducks and Geese, Anatidae

An estimated 55% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.

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Overview

The Greater Scaup is the more common of the two scaup in the northern United States, where it is usually seen in large rafts, often composed of thousands of birds, on large lakes or coastal bays. Although the two scaup can be difficult to tell apart, any very large flock of scaup on the northeast coast in winter may be assumed to be the Greater. Because it dives for mollusks and other animals and is not as much of a vegetarian as the Redhead or the Canvasback, the Greater Scaup is not considered as choice a game bird, although it is still shot in large numbers annually.

Description

15-20" (38-51 cm). Male has very light gray body, blackish chest, and black-appearing, green-glossed head. Female is a uniform dark brown with white patch at base of bill. Both sexes have long whitish wing stripe. See Lesser Scaup.

Voice

Usually silent; discordant croaking calls on breeding grounds.

Nesting

8-12 olive-buff eggs in a down-lined cup of grass concealed in a clump of grass on land or in marsh vegetation well out from shore.

Habitat

Lakes, bays, and ponds; often on salt water in winter.

Range/Migration

Breeds in Alaska and northern Canada east to Hudson Bay and occasionally in Maritime Provinces. Winters mainly along Pacific, Gulf, and Atlantic coasts. Also in Eurasia.