Saturday, November 30, 2019

Lesser Scaup

Updated: February 3, 2021

Six months ago I signed on to iNaturalist and started submitting my wildlife photos. When I submitted a photo of one of the ducks in this post I labeled it as a greater scaup. Several people disagreed, indicating it was a lesser scaup. Recently, I submitted a photo of a similar duck and labeled it a lesser scaup. Again, people disagreed and labeled it a greater scaup. I decided I really need to figure out how to tell them apart. See my post on the greater scaup for what I believe to be the telling differences. Everything below is what I wrote originally. However, the duck in this post is a lesser scaup and not a greater scaup.  I also changed the title of this post to reflect that fact. 

Until encountering greater scaup, a species of duck, along the causeway to Antelope Island in Great Salt Lake, and looking them up, I'd never heard of them. 
A male and female greater scaup.
Female greater scaup.
Male greater scaup.
The male and female greater scaup look quite different from each other. The male has a bright blue bill, which is why it is also known as a bluebill, yellow eyes, a dark head with green sheen, a black breast, a black tail, a white belly, a gray back and its lower belly a vermiculated gray. The female has a brown body and head, a white facial patch next to the base of the bill, and a bill which is a duller shade of blue than the male's. 
One male (top right) and four females.
Female greater scaup.
They breed in the Arctic Circle, spend the summer in Alaska, Siberia and the northern parts of Europe, and winter along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America, northwest Europe, and various seas, such as the Black Sea and Caspian Sea and various inland lakes, obviously including the Great Salt Lake. 
Female and male.

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