Lesser Scaup

Lesser Scaup Male, Vancouver Island, BC
Lesser Scaup Male, Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Bud Logan

The lesser scaup winters in the pacific northwest in great Numbers and can be seen almost everywhere. This bird is a diving duck slightly smaller than a ringneck duck and has a bluish-gray bill with a small black tip, and a crown that is peaked at the rear. Males have white flanks, gray upper parts, and a purplish-black head. Females have brownish flanks and upper parts, a brown head, and a white patch at the base of the bill. Males in non-breeding plumage are similar but browner. The immature lesser scaup is similar to the adult female.

Lesser scaup prefers lakes, marshes, and estuaries. They primarily eat mollusks, insects, and plant material. They dive in shallow water to forage or dabbles in shallow water. Lesser scaup occur throughout most of North America, we have many that winter here.

These ducks do not breed until the age of two, breeding starts in late May and runs through June. The nests are generally located on dry land but close to water, they will look for areas with water and plenty of bullrushes. Insects lay eggs on the bullrushes providing plenty of feed. The female builds the nest, it is a shallow depression in the ground lined with grass and down. She will lay up to 10 eggs and incubate them for up to 27 days. The male leaves when incubation begins. The young leave the nest within 24 hours of hatching and head to the water, the mother will protect them, but they must learn to feed themselves right away. Several females will quite often join up together and raise all the chicks as a group.  The young fledge by day 55, usually in late August or early September.

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