Lesser Scaup Duck
The Lesser Scaup Duck (Aythya affinis) is a small North American diving duck that migrates south as far as Central America in winter. It is colloquially known as the little bluebill or broadbill because of its distinctive blue bill. The origin of the name scaup may stem from the bird’s preference for feeding on scalp—the Scottish word for clams, oysters, and mussels; however, some credit it to the female’s discordant scaup call as the name’s source.
Male – The male Lesser Scaup duck has a black head and neck with a purplish gloss or sometimes a greenish sheen, a small tuft at the hind-crown, yellow eyes, pale-blue beak with a black tip, a black breast, white under-parts with flanks being white with some vermiculation, tail is blackish and under tail is blackish-brown, a whitish-grey back with dark vermiculations, and legs and feet are greyish-green. The lesser Scaup is smaller but very similar in appearance to the Greater Scaup.
Female – The female Lesser Scaup duck has a dark brown head, neck, breast, and back, a white band around the base of the beak, orange eyes, and a white belly and under-parts.
Eclipse – The male in eclipse plumage is much duller than in its breeding plumage with a brownish-black head, neck, and breast and a brownish tinge to the rest of the plumage.
Size: – Typical Adult is 15-19 inches.
Food: – Mussels, molluscs, aquatic plant seeds, sedges, and aquatic insects.
Habitat: – Inland lakes, ponds, rivers, lagoons, and bays in North America – Alaska and Canada. Winters further south to Central America, West Indies, and Venezuela.
Breeding Season: – Mid-May in south, mid-June further north.
Eggs: – 9 to 11 (olive-buff color).
Notes: – The Lesser Scaup is a small North American diving duck which is sometimes called the Little Bluebill or Broadbill. It is the most common diving duck in North America.
The different types of wild ducks can be grouped into puddle, aka “dabbling” and diving ducks. The dabblers mostly feed in smaller bodies of shallow water or along shorelines, where they are able to tip their bodies forward to reach their food on the bottom. There are divers who feed in deeper water where they dive and pursue their quarry. Some of these birds, the Harlequin Duck for example, actually dives to the bottom of fast-flowing waters and feeds on life forms attached to rocks.