General: Lesser Scaup are often
hard to distinguish from the Greater Scaup when viewed at a distance and
when a large scaup flock is encountered it will often have both species
present. Although the Lesser Scaup has
the largest population of any species
of diving duck in North America, their population has been steadily
declining since the mid-1980s
The eggs of the Lesser Scaup are olive
colored. The chicks hatch in about 21-28 days and they fledge in about 45-50
days. Lesser Scaup chicks are capable of diving under water on their
hatching day, but they are too buoyant to stay under for more than just a
The meat of the Lesser Scaup should be considered good. It is
one of the better eating diving ducks.
Identification: Male: Lesser Scaup are about
12" long with a wingspan of 29". The have a glossy black head with a purple
cast (Greater Scaup's head has a more green cast). The neck, breast and
upper mantle are glossy black. Vermiculations on the sides and flanks are
olive brown and contrast with the white chest and belly. The back is light
gray with broad heavy vermiculations of sooty black. The tail, upper and
under-tail coverts are black. The wing has a white speculum and the inner
primaries are light brown, becoming darker towards the tips and outer
primaries. The bill is a light blue-gray with a black tip, the legs and feet
are gray and the iris is yellow.
Scaup has a brownish head, neck and chest. A white ring circles the base of
the bill. The back, rump are dark brown and the speculum is white. The bill
is similar to that of the male but slightly duller, the legs and feet are
gray and the iris is yellow.
Habitat: Lesser Scaup
nest near prairie marshes, ponds, lakes and slow rivers, In winter range the
can be found on coastal bays and larger lakes
The Lesser Scaup breeds from interior Alaska and Northern Canada to the
prairie states and east. They migrate south to British Columbia and
Massachusetts south to the Gulf states and South America.
Diet: Lesser Scaup feed on seeds of pondweeds, wigeon grass, wild
rice, sedges and bulrushes. They also feed on crustaceans, mollusks, aquatic
insects and small fish.