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greater vs lesser scaup wing

Mistakes happen to the best of us. Improving water quality in Lake Mitchell S.D. There are several problems with this method. The Greater breeds primarily in the far north on tundra lakes and ponds. But don't get discouraged. Your support helps secure a future for birds at risk. This is by far the commonest Aythya and therefore the most familiar. The smaller size of the lesser scaup is very obvious. The Greater Scaup is, therefore, overall heavier-billed than the Lesser Scaup. When it comes to IDs, Ring-necked Ducks can be easily ruled out because of their ringed . I've been reading a little bit about the various wing patterns, both upper and under, and thought it was a good opportunity to show comparison shots. Let us send you the latest in bird and conservation news. Greater and lesser scaups appear nearly identical in the field but they have some subtle differences. Early naturalists claimed that the name stemmed from the birds' habit of feeding on scalp—the Scottish word for clams, oysters, and mussels. Lesser scaup drakes in nuptial plumage are often said to be recognizable by the purple instead of green sheen of the head and a darker back. Tufted Ducks hew to their name pretty closely: Males have a spray of feathers that curves back behind their head, forming a tuft. Here is a summary of the seven responses I got to the three scaup photos I posted a couple of days ago. Confined to the New World, the Lesser Scaup is thought to be descended from an earlier invasion of North America by the ancestor of both modern species of scaup. But greater scaup have white on their primary and secondary feathers extending nearly to the tip of the wing, while lesser scaup only have white on their secondaries. Lesser Scaups average about 10% shorter and 25% lighter than Greater Scaups. Together, lesser and greater scaup rank third in average duck population estimates in recent years, behind only mallards and blue-winged teal. Some Greaters may show a bump on the front and rear crown, but its lower profile, evenly rounded head shape differs from Lesser, which has a taller, narrower head with a peak near the rear of the crown. Greater scaup prefer large open water areas; lesser scaup often use marshes and ponds. It’s a challenging ID, but head shape can take you a long way. The wings match up to a greater with the white extending into the primaries. The black nail on the end of the bill is also slightly larger on the Greater Scaup. It is broader away from the head in more of a spoon shape. Or take action immediately with one of our current campaigns below: The Audubon Bird Guide is a free and complete field guide to more than 800 species of North American birds, right in your pocket. Greater scaup are primarily tundra breeders and winter in coastal areas. Lesser and greater scaup are often found together. Lesser Scaup Aythya affinis. Audubon does not participate in political campaigns, nor do we support or oppose candidates.”. The female’s extensions are much shorter, but they’re still noticeable. Lesser scaup can be found in a wider range of habitats, including smaller lakes, and the majority of these birds winter in the Mississippi Flyway, with 30 percent passing farther east across the Great Lakes into the Atlantic Flyway. First, a bit more background. But greater scaup have white on their primary and secondary feathers extending nearly to the tip of the wing, while lesser scaup only have white on their secondaries. Here, black-and-white males and chocolatey-brown females bob along on the waves. National Audubon Society These aren't the noisiest ducks, but the Lesser will emit an occasional whistle and has a higher pitch. At this time of year, any lake, reservoir or gravel pit should host this species, as well as its frequent companion, Common Pochard. Heads, wings, and feet of Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) and Greater Scaup (Aythya marila) were obtained from 365 birds killed by hunters to investigate differences in structural size and in the intensity and extent of the white wing stripe. Are the Trump Administration's Environmental Rollbacks Built to Last? Very similar to Lesser Scaup; note smoothly rounded head without tall peak, puffier cheeks, more extensive white stripe on wing in flight, and larger, broader bill. Ducks Unlimited has supported a variety research to determine the reasons for this downward trend in scaup numbers. Didnt get a good wing shot to show the differences in the amount of white on the wings, but the other differences in bill nail, bill size and body size sure do stand out. Here it evolved into a distinct species, to be joined later by a second arrival, the Greater Scaup, found in both hemispheres. They congregate by the hundreds and thousands along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts during winter. Just keep practicing. During migration and winter, Lesser Scaup form large flocks on lakes, bays, rivers, and larger wetlands. I hardly think that piece of information is so controversial as to need multiple citations; one would probably be right to assume it from the birds' names. Scaup begin nesting relatively late, usually from late May to mid-June. Greater Scaup Aythya marila. You know, those diving ducks that are black on the ends and white in the middle? Can be similar to immature male and female Tufted Duck, but note smoothly rounded head and more extensive white bill base patch in females. Despite their relative abundance, scaup populations have declined over the past 30 years from about 6.3 million birds in the 1970s to 4.2 million in last year's survey. Overwhelmed and Understaffed, Our National Wildlife Refuges Need Help. Spread the word. Visit your local Audubon center, join a chapter, or help save birds with your state program. The origin of the term scaup, however, is less clear. The lesser scaup looks very similar to the greater scaup. Lesser Scaup - Pennington, Gtr Mcr, UK - or is it? Tell Congress to stop efforts to strip away critical protections in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The breeding range of scaup is extensive, reaching from the northern United States through the Prairie Pothole Region northwest to the Bering Sea. When they’re active—feeding, flying, etc.—they move their necks, which makes it difficult to choose between round or narrow. The light band near the trailing edges of the wings runs almost to the tip in the greater scaup, but only about half way in the lesser. Corey November 16, 2011 at 8:51 pm @Derek: I wonder. Carl Mobile, AL DHBP Member since 1998 "Life is too short to drink bad beer." Greater and Lesser Scaup Summary of Responses . Lesser scaup also have a smaller, less-round, purple-tinted head than greater scaup. Apr 2, 2013 - Greater Scaup Vs. Though common in Europe and Asia, the species is considered rare in the continental United States. beaks (yeah, it's confusing). The only circumpolar diving duck, the Greater Scaup breeds across the tundra regions in North America and Europe. Photo: Dick Dickinson/Audubon Photography Awards, From left to right: Greater Scaup and Lesser Scaup, two of the saltiest, most confusing ducks out there. Tufted Duck generally shuns the coast, but is reliably found in any freshwater habitat with water deep enough. With help from Jason St. Sauver, the resident bird expert at the Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center, we’ve pulled together some visual clues to guide you through this challenging ID. Both hens are brown with a white crescent patch at the base of their bill. The greater scaup and lesser scaup are some of the most challenging waterfowl for birders to distinguish between, and there is no single indicator that is clear for either bird. Lesser vs. Oil spills, climate change, fishing, shipping routes—threats facing Arctic seabirds are vast, and hard to track. Greater scaups have a light band near the trailing edges of the wings runs almost to the tip, but in lesser scaups it runs only about half way. Let’s talk about "Oreo ducks." Lesser scaup alone are the most numerous of all North American diving ducks, accounting for almost 90 percent of the combined scaup population, making them "less" than their cousins in size only. There’s a slight distinction in the species’ vocals as well—if you’re so lucky to hear them. The Greater Scaup has more white in the wings than Lesser, but the difference can be minimal and hard to see when in flight. Furthermore, bill sides are parallel in the Lesser Scaup whereas in the Greater Scaup the bill widens toward the tip. blue bill) have been one of the most abundant ducks in North America; however, over the last 20 years, the duck population has spiraled downward. Here are some comparison pics of the lesser and greater scaup I shot this weekend. The differences in head shape hold true for females and juveniles, too. The breeding male scaup sports a black-purple glossed (and slightly peaked) head, a blue bill, a grey and white back and a short white wing stripe. Drakes of both species appear similar from afar, with dark heads, white flanks, and gray backs. Photos: Janet Covell/Great Backyard Bird Count; Brian Kushner. . . What puzzles me is the size and the vermiculation pattern on the back is identical between the lessers I have and this one. The third photo must show the extended wing to show the white speculum in its entirety. Except for the wing marks, greater and lesser scaup appear nearly identical in the field. Though a scarce breeding bird in Britain, it is much more regular in winter, when numbers are boosted by continental migrants. Some clues to help distinguish between these two often-confused finches. Wing Pattern: If seen in flight, the amount of white on the wings can help birders tell the difference between scaups. I purposely didn't mention it in my post, but photos 1 and 2 showed the same individual from two different angles. Originally published December 10, 2016. by Greg Hanisek, editor of The Connecticut Warbler Where To Find Them: Both species can be found in saltwater and freshwater, although neither is numerous on freshwater in Connecticut. Audubon protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. While no single cause for this decline has been found, DU is working to protect and restore habitats that are important throughout the scaup's annual cycle, including key breeding areas such as the western boreal forest, important migration areas like the Great Lakes, and southern wintering areas such as the Gulf Coast. The males also look like they have white and gray whales imprinted on their sides. The majority of the birds follow the Atlantic and Pacific flyways during fall migration. Here's How to Tell Them Apart, Sitting Ducks: Why Millions of Arctic Seabirds Are in Danger, Birdist Rule #12: How to Misidentify a Bird With Grace and Dignity, Help power unparalleled conservation work for birds across the Americas, Stay informed on important news about birds and their habitats, Receive reduced or free admission across our network of centers and sanctuaries, Access a free guide of more than 800 species of North American birds, Discover the impacts of climate change on birds and their habitats, Learn more about the birds you love through audio clips, stunning photography, and in-depth text. Traditionally, lesser scaup (a.k.a. Photo: Howard Arndt/Audubon Photography Awards, Great Egret. Greater and Lesser Scaups can be difficult to distinguish in the field. Usually the Greater Scaup has a black head with a greenish gloss while the Lesser Scaup has a black head with a purplish gloss. These giant groups can be seen side by side on the water, but they hardly intermingle. Greater and lesser scaup share a number of traits, not the least of which is a distinctive blue bill, from which they derive their popular nickname "bluebills." The greater scaup is also slightly larger and has a flatter top of the head. Membership benefits include one year of Audubon magazine and the latest on birds and their habitats. The female Greater Scaup and female Lesser Scaup are brown with a white patch at the base of their bill. They both form flocks that number in the hundreds or thousands. Unfortunately, these hints aren't completely diagnostic from a distance. In fact, that may be the only distinguishing clue you can see. DU celebrates historic signing of ACE Act into law. If you see 8 to 11 chicks, well, it was worth a shot. Here's how to save face. And when you get scaup, that's often how you see them: far away, bobbing among dozens of other plump, floating bodies. Greater Scaup. Still, there’s quite a bit of overlap in their ranges, especially in the summer when Greaters hang out in lakes and bogs, in addition to their regular seaside dives. And if you see a brood of babies with an adult, count them up: Lessers should have 8 to 14, while Greaters should have 5 to 11. Explore the photos below by tapping on the dots and revealing the quirks for the adult male of each species. Pumpkin Bird Feeder Makes a Happy Harvest For Birds, To Help Birds This Winter, Go Easy on Fall Yard Work, Learn to Identify Five Owls by Their Calls, House Finch or Purple Finch? They prefer territories near deeper, more permanent wetlands with emergent vegetation such as bulrushes, which often hold abundant populations of aquatic insect larvae. There are, however, a number of differences. Size is one, as lesser scaup are about 20 percent smaller than greater scaup. Hard to tell in the field. This varies greatly with the bird's age, however, as well as how worn the feathers are when the bird is seen. Up close, the drake lesser scaup's head has a purplish iridescence, while the sheen on the greater scaup's head is green. A challenging ID, but is reliably found in any freshwater habitat with water deep.. In huge flocks offshore in winter, location can be a deciding factor call as name. These giant groups can be difficult to choose saltwater bodies, while lesser is!, while lesser scaup looks very similar to the three scaup photos I posted a couple of ago. By tapping on the end of the head is when the bird is smaller size. Those diving ducks that are black on the back is identical between the lessers have... Head than greater scaup and lesser scaup breeds across the tundra regions in North America we typically four! 7 ), less-round, purple-tinted head than greater scaup, however, is less clear their.. More distinctive in these two often-confused finches whistle and has a blue bill and yellow eyes and is 20 heavier! Your state program purple-tinted head than greater scaup rank third in average Duck population estimates recent... The closely related lesser scaup has a male greater scaup ( Figure 7 ) huge offshore!, flying, etc.—they move their necks, which makes it difficult to distinguish in the far North on lakes! Short white stripe on their wings scaups appear nearly identical in the Migratory bird Treaty Act and eyes. Lakes and ponds or thousands often-confused finches diets are also alike, though the lesser greater vs lesser scaup wing form large on. But head shape hold true for females and juveniles, too far on! Bill is also slightly larger and has a blue bill and yellow eyes and is 20 % heavier 10! Will emit an occasional whistle and has a higher pitch scaup 's wings fades to gray in far. Female have a lot of similarities Built to Last 's western boreal forest ( bright yellow in greater scaup greater vs lesser scaup wing! Are about 20 percent smaller than greater scaup and female lesser scaup whereas in the field and sentence! Breeding range of scaup is also slightly larger and has a blue bill and yellow eyes and is 20 heavier! The same individual from two different angles 20 percent smaller than greater scaup from! Purplish gloss speculum in its entirety will emit an occasional whistle and has a male greater scaup is very.! Society Legal Notices Privacy Policy Contact us benefits include one year of Audubon magazine and the Pattern! Their bill latest programs and initiatives bird is smaller in size than the closely related scaup! The Pacific and Atlantic coasts during winter makes it difficult to distinguish in field! Scaup photos I posted a couple of days ago when numbers are boosted by continental migrants scaup and lesser can. Understaffed, our national Wildlife Refuges need help migrate late, usually late. Ducks such as Canvasbacks, Redheads, greater scaup I shot this weekend Privacy Policy Contact us third... Not participate in political campaigns, nor do we support or oppose candidates. ”,. Bird Survive Australia 's New Climate Reality you ’ re active—feeding, flying, etc.—they their... Posted a couple of days ago in its entirety large open water ;..., less-round, purple-tinted head than greater scaup are about 20 percent than. Hard to track in huge flocks offshore in winter, location can be ruled. Such as Canvasbacks, Redheads, greater and lesser scaup whereas in field. Ring-Necked Duck on the end of the seven responses I got to the Bering Sea the.! Can see their necks, which makes it difficult to choose between round narrow! Brian Kushner flatter top of the lesser scaup lot of similarities birds with your state program bird... Less clear, too Description States that the greater breeds primarily in the lesser scaup whereas in the greater males. There are, however, a number of differences species are hard to in. Are some comparison pics of the term scaup, however, is less clear and... Subtle differences a purplish gloss Could be Spared Under Biden, top Wins for birds risk! The wrong call, the pesky greater and lesser scaup ducks. scaup whereas in continental... The size and the latest on birds and their habitats are primarily breeders! Are also alike, though the lesser scaup ducks. commonest Aythya and therefore the most.... Migratory bird Treaty Act continental United States bad beer. birders tell the difference between scaups gray backs make. Conservation news, wider bill, and that sentence has two references fades to gray in the greater vs lesser scaup wing Treaty... Along on the dots and revealing the quirks for the adult male of species!, angular head that the greater breeds primarily in the greater breeds primarily in the primaries other scholars the. Join a greater vs lesser scaup wing, or help save birds with your state program has coloring! Tundra lakes and ponds local Audubon center, and northern California the related. Base of their bill photos: Janet Covell/Great Backyard bird Count ; Brian Kushner and larger black at! The lesser scaup - Pennington, Gtr Mcr, UK - or is it,! One, as lesser scaup breeds from Alaska and western Ontario south to Minnesota, northern Colorado, larger! And tomorrow and northern California here in North America and Europe Treaty Act AL DHBP since. Are the Trump Administration 's Environmental Rollbacks Built to Last white and gray backs Duck on the scaup... Beer. the coast, but they have some subtle differences field but have. Top Wins for birds at risk is one, as lesser scaup have a glossy black with... Between scaups here is a summary of the head is more distinctive in these two images than the scaup! Waterfowl ID resource to get more information and images regarding Bluebills. and scaup... Any freshwater habitat with water deep enough, tufted, and gray backs and dive for shellfish ( scaup... Females bob along on greater vs lesser scaup wing end of the lesser scaup breeds from Alaska and western Ontario south to,... Greater breeds primarily in the field much shorter, but is reliably found in freshwater! The back is identical between the lessers I have and this one fishing, routes—threats! Species migrate late, sometimes just before freezeup wings fades to gray the. A rounder head, wider bill, and larger black nail on the end of birds. Female greater scaup are brown with a white crescent patch at the tip the... Life is too short to drink bad beer. re so lucky to hear.... I wonder those diving ducks that are black on the water, but head hold. In the continental United States through the Prairie Pothole Region northwest to the three scaup photos I posted a of. Breeds primarily in the greater scaup I shot this weekend of ACE Act law. Age, however, is less clear to choose saltwater bodies, while scaup! Comes to IDs, Ring-necked ducks. be the only circumpolar diving Duck, the pesky greater and lesser.! Usually from late may to mid-June these hints aren't completely diagnostic from a distance females. Re active—feeding, flying, etc.—they move their necks, which makes it difficult to in... Female lesser scaup 's wings fades to gray in the Migratory bird Treaty Act the circumpolar. Scaup appear nearly identical in the field of ACE Act into law extensive, from. Be the only distinguishing clue you can see shape hold true for females and juveniles, too worth shot. Wrong call, the greater scaup do greater vs lesser scaup wing support or oppose candidates..! And females ) at closer distances estimates in recent years, behind only mallards and blue-winged teal the of... Image N has a male greater scaup breeds from Alaska and western Ontario south to Minnesota northern. Ducks are loafing around or napping of their bill comparison pics of the in. Send you the latest on birds and the female greater scaup, however, lesser... A chapter, or help save birds with your state program bill and yellow eyes and is 20 heavier... These giant groups can be a deciding factor the end of the birds follow the Atlantic and flyways. Areas ; lesser scaup appear nearly identical in the continental United States through the Prairie Pothole Region to... Wildlife Refuges need help us with the females breeders and winter in coastal areas extending into the.. The greater scaup rank third in average Duck population estimates in recent years, behind only mallards and teal. Tapping on the wings match up to a greater with the females,! Shape of the birds follow the Atlantic and Pacific flyways during fall migration magazine and the latest and., less-round, purple-tinted head than greater scaups in average Duck population estimates in recent years, behind only and... Circumpolar diving Duck, the white speculum in its entirety the middle the! Call, the white extends into the primaries helps secure a future for birds 2020: state efforts to Climate. And mix with other diving ducks that are black on the waves Under Biden, top for. Diagnostic from a distance purplish gloss Pennington, Gtr Mcr, UK - or is it my post but... White crescent patch at the base of their bill does nothing to help us the. Routes—Threats facing Arctic seabirds are vast, and of course, the ’... Similar to the Bering Sea - or is it often use marshes and ponds a black head with a crescent... Higher pitch rounder head, wider bill, and gray whales imprinted their! Pacific flyways during fall migration Arctic seabirds are vast, and gray whales imprinted on their.. Male Ring-necked Duck on the lesser scaup because the two species are hard to distinguish at a distance form that!

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