Aythya affinis
(Lesser Scaup)


Order: Anseriformes
Order Description: Swans, Geese, Ducks
Family: Anatidae
Family Description: Swans, Geese and Ducks

Physical Description:
15-18 1/2" (38-47 cm). Dark brown breast, rump, tail, and head with yellow eyes; bluish gray bill with black tip. Gray scaled back; white flanks. Females have brown mottled flanksClick word for definition, brown breast, and white facial patch at base of bill.

Similar Species- Greater Scaup, Ring-necked Duck

Song:
Easily remembered as repeatedly calling: scaup.

Distribution:
Breeds from Alaska and parts of Canada, south to northern Idaho, northern Wyoming, northern North Dakota, and Minnesota, and casually or irregularly to western Washington, northeastern California, southern Idaho, northeastern Colorado, and parts of Midwest. Winters from southern Alaska, east to New England, and south through southern Idaho, Utah, northeastern Colorado, parts of Midwest, and southern U.S., to northern Colombia.

Habitat:
During migrationClick word for definition and when not breeding, found along coast in sheltered bays, estuaries, and marshes, or inland on lakes, ponds, and rivers; found on saltwater especially if lakes and ponds are frozen. In southern winter range, prefers freshwater ponds, lakes, and sloughs with reasonably clear water 1 m or more deep.

Diet:
Diet consists of about equal amounts of plant and animal food. Feeds on seeds of pondweeds, wigeon grass, wild rice, sedges, and bulrushes. Also eats crustaceans, mollusks, and aquatic insects.

Ecology:
Feeds mostly in freshwater 1-2 m deep. Builds nest on ground, close to water; occasionally nests over water. In Idaho, prefers marshes for nesting, and open reservoirs and large rivers during migration and in winter.

Reproduction:
Egg-laying begins early May in sourthern range, to mid-June in north. clutchClick word for definition size varies from 6-15 eggs, but is usually 9-12 (older females lay largest clutches). Female incubatesClick word for definition eggs (incubation lasts 22-27 days) and tends young. A variable percentage of yearling females do not breed.

Conservation:
Element Code: ABNJB11070
Status: Game species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S4
National Rank: N5B,N5N

Important State References:
No references are available at this time.


Photo by Luther Goldman,© 2002
Design by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.
Written by Jason Karl, 2000.