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Greater Scaup

Basic Description

The only circumpolar diving duck, the Greater Scaup breeds across the tundra regions in North America and Europe. They congregate by the hundreds and thousands along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts during winter. Here, black-and-white males and chocolatey-brown females bob along on the waves. They look remarkably similar to the Lesser Scaup, with only slight differences in head shape: the Greater Scaup has a rounded head, the Lesser Scaup a peaked head. These underwater divers eat aquatic invertebrates and plants at the bottom of lakes and bays.

More ID Info
image of range map for Greater Scaup
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Getting a look at a Greater Scaup often means heading to the coast. During migration (roughly February–April and October–November) they use large lakes such as the Great Lakes, but they tend to concentrate on coastal waters during the winter. They also tend to congregate in homogenous, single species rafts. Because of their tendency to sit far from shore, and their lookalike cousin the Lesser Scaup, it's useful to have a spotting scope (or join a bird club outing where the trip leader is likely to bring one). It takes practice to pick out the different head shapes of Lesser and Greater Scaup (see ID section). It's okay to record Greater/Lesser Scaup on your eBird checklist if you are unsure of the ID.

Other Names

  • Porrón Bastardo (Spanish)
  • Fuligule milouinan (French)
  • Cool Facts