Lesser Scaup

The Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) is a medium-sized diving duck that is commonly found throughout North America. The males of this species are approximately 15-18 inches long and weigh between 1-2 pounds, while females are slightly smaller at 14-16 inches long and weighing between 1-1.5 pounds. Both sexes have a distinctive blue bill with a black tip, yellow eyes, and a black head that fades into a dark iridescent purple on their back and wings. The females have a brown head and body with a darker brown back and wings, while the males have a white band on their wings.

During the breeding season, the Lesser Scaup can be found in the northern regions of North America, including Alaska and Canada. They prefer shallow wetland habitats such as marshes, lakes, and ponds with plenty of vegetation for nesting. As winter approaches, they begin to migrate south to more temperate regions, such as the Gulf of Mexico and the southern United States. In some cases, they may travel as far south as Central America.

One distinguishing field mark of the Lesser Scaup is the white band on the male’s wings. This is a key characteristic for distinguishing them from the Greater Scaup, which lacks this band. Another distinguishing feature is the drab brown coloration of the female’s plumage. While they may look similar to other female ducks, their distinctive blue bill with a black tip helps to identify them in the field. In flight, their wings appear rounded, and they have a fast, direct flight pattern.

During the winter months, the Lesser Scaup can often be found in large flocks on open bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, and coastal bays. They feed primarily on aquatic vegetation, mollusks, and small fish, which they dive for and catch underwater. They are highly social birds and often form large groups during migration and wintering.

In recent years, the Lesser Scaup has faced a decline in population, with habitat loss and hunting being the primary threats to their survival. Conservation efforts are underway to protect their breeding and wintering habitats, and hunting restrictions have been put in place to help stabilize their populations. Overall, the Lesser Scaup is a fascinating and important species of duck that plays a vital role in the ecosystems where they reside.

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