Greater Scaup - Aythya marila
The greater scaup is a medium-sized diving duck. It is 15-22 inches in length with a wingspan of about 28-30 inches. It has a rounded head, bright yellow eyes, and a grayish-blue bill with a black tip. The male has a black chest and tail, white sides, and a barred gray back. His head and neck look black, but they are actually a greenish-black. The female is brown and has a white patch at the base of her bill. Both the male and the female have a white wing stripe and a white belly. The greater scaup looks very similar to the lesser scaup.
The greater scaup breeds from Alaska east to Labrador, Canada. It winters along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of southern Canada and the United States. It is also found in the Gulf Coast, the Great Lakes, and in Europe and Asia.
Male and female pairs form in late winter or early spring. The female lays 5-13 eggs in a depression in the ground lined with grass and down. Nests are usually located close to the water or on an island and are usually well-hidden by vegetation. The male leaves when the female begins to incubate the eggs. The female incubates the eggs for 23-28 days. The chicks are precocial. Shortly after hatching the female leads them to water where they feed themselves. The ducklings fledge when they are 40-45 days old.
The greater scaup usually gathers in large rafts, sometimes containing thousands of birds. The greater scaup gets its name from the "scaup scaup" call it makes. It is also sometimes called the "blue-bill."
Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Lauri Hallikainen