Wednesday, February 13, 2013

How to Recognize the Different Species of Scaup

Lesser Scaup
Greatest Scaup
The other day, the most common species that we observed were scaup.  Now there are two species of scaup: Greatest Scaup and Lesser Scaup.  Today's blog, hopefully will help you would field marks to tell a difference when you are out in the field.  Normally, location helps to identify which scaup, it is.  Greatest Scaup, are usually found in more northern locations, on saltwater and are coastal.  Lesser Scaup can be found more southern, in land and on freshwater.  However, in the winter.  This may not hold true, especially if lakes, ponds and rivers are frozen.  Presently, a great location to observe the scaup and other species of ducks, loons and coots is at Blackstone Park, on River Road overlooking the Seekonk River in Providence, Rhode Island.
Lesser Scaup

Greatest Scaup

Greatest Scaup Female

Greatest Scaup Female

Lesser Scaup

 Whenever you see a large flock of scaup, you need to look closely to see if you are lucky enough to have a Tufted Duck mixed in with the flock.The tufted duck is similar in appearance except for the small tuft of feathers coming off of its head.
Tufted Duck with Scaup



Here is a quick reference guide:


Characteristic
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Size
18-20"
16-18"
Bill
Broad, Prominent Black Nail
Narrower, More Delicate Nail
Head Shape
Rounded, Highest Point Near Forehead
Oval, Highest Point Near Back, Notch at Rear
Iridescence
Green
Green or Purple
Plumage
Narrow Back Barring, Plain White Flanks
Heavier Barring, Barring Extends onto Flanks
Wing Pattern
White Extends Across Secondary and Primary Feathers
White Only on Secondary Feathers