Wildlife Journal Junior!
New Hampshire PBS

Home       |       Wild Files       |       N.H. Animals       |       Animals A-Z       |       Watch Online

Lesser Scaup - Aythya affinis

Lesser Scaup


 Kingdom: Animalia
 Phylum: Chordata
 Class: Aves
 Order: Anseriformes
 Family: Anatidae
 Genus:   Aythya
ICUN Redlist - World Status: Least ConcernLeast Concern


Lesser ScaupThe lesser scaup is a small diving duck. It is 15-18 inches in length with a wingspan of 27-30 inches. It has a slightly pointed head, yellow eyes, and a grayish-blue bill with a small black tip. The male has a black chest and tail and gray sides. He has a purple head that looks black.

Lesser ScaupThe female is brown and has a white band around the base of her bill. Both the male and the female have a short white stripe on their wings. The lesser scaup looks very similar to the greater scaup. The greater scaup is a little larger than the lesser scaup, its head is more rounded, and the black tip on the end of the bill is larger.


mapThe lesser scaup breeds from Alaska and western Ontario south to Minnesota, northern Colorado, and northern California. It winters throughout the United States both inland and along the coasts.



Lesser ScaupThe lesser scaup is found on freshwater marshes, lakes, ponds, and bays during breeding season. In the winter, it is found in saltwater, brackish, and freshwater habitats.


The lesser scaup dives for clams, snails, crustaceans, and aquatic insects. It also eats seeds and aquatic plants.

Life Cycle

Lesser Scaup 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. 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 can feed themselves. They can dive for food, but they can't stay under water for more than a few seconds. They are so buoyant that they pop right back up to the surface! The ducklings fledge when they are 40-45 days old.


Lesser Scaup The lesser scaup will sometimes play dead when it is captured by a predator like the red fox. It holds still with its head stretched out, its eyes open, and its wings drawn into it body.

Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Paul Driver cc logo