Thursday, January 15, 2015

Greater Scaup - Aythya marila

Hen and Drake Greater Scaup
I visited Jenney Pond again and found some additional species which I will discuss in the next blog.  What was interesting was there were greater scaup drakes present in their eclipse plumage.  What made it hard to identify them is that I was use to their normal plumage.  Thank God for "Stokes Guide to Eastern Birds".  One other item makes it difficult to identify greatest scaup is that the lesser scaup is almost identical except the lesser scaup has a bump on its head rather than a rounded head.

Identification points is that the bill is bluish with a black tip.  The males have a black head, chest and rear end and gray sides.  Females of a dull brown and have a white patch on its face at the base of the bill.
Hen Greater Scaup
Males have two plumages, a breeding plumage, and a non-breeding plumage, also called eclipse plumage.
Drake Greater Scaup in Breeding Plumage
Again in breeding plumage: the males has, neck, upper back and breast a black and the head will show a greenish iridescence in the right light.  The back is white to gray, covered with then, black wavy lines, rump is black, belly is white with the sides white and fine dark streaks.

Pair of Drake Greater Scaup
Eclipse plumage: it is similar to the female but only with a few white feathers on the face.  Head and neck are black is brown, lighter on the cheeks and chin, the breast is dark, with white edging to feathers and the back is also brown with white edges to the feathers.  It's on the parts a modified brownish and white and the tail is a dark grayish.

Drake Greatest Scaup in Eclipse Plumage

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