The Greater Scaup (Aythya marila) - commonly referred to as Scaup in Europe or "Bluebill" - is a small diving duck. It got its name from "scalp" - a Scottish and Northern English word for a shellfish bed ("probably" the same word as the scalp of the head), or from the duck's display call scaup scaup.
Distribution / Range:
The Greater Scaup (Aythya marila) breeds on the ground by lakes and bogs on the tundra and at the northern limits of the boreal forest across Arctic and subarctic regions of northern North America, Europe and Asia.
Greater Scaup migrate southwards to winter in flocks to coastal waters.
In North America, Greater Scaup populations have been on a steady decline since the 1990's. Biologists and conservationists are unsure of the reasons for decline. Some researchers believe a parasitic trematode found in snails may be to blame.
The Greater Scaup is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.
Diet / Feeding:
The Greater Scaup mainly eats mollusks and aquatic plants, obtained by diving and swimming underwater. There is a report of four Greater Scaups swallowing leopard frogs (with body length about 5 cm (2 inches) which they dredged out of a roadside freshwater pond.
The Greater Scaup averages 42–51 cm in length and has a wingspan of 71–80 cm. It is large in size than the Lesser Scaup.
It has a blue bill and yellow eyes.
The adult male's head is dark (nearly black) colored head with a green sheen, a black chest, a light back, a black tail and a white bottom.
The adult female has a brown body and head - with a white band at the base of the bill.
Calls / Vocalizations
The Great Scaup is mostly silent when not breeding.
Diet / Feeding:
Greater Scaups mainly eat mollusks and aquatic plants, obtained by diving and swimmming underwater.
Ducks generally feed on larvae and pupae usually found under rocks, aquatic animals, plant material, seeds, small fish, snails and crabs.
Feeding Ducks ...
We all enjoy ducks and many of us offer them food to encourage them to come over and stay around - and it works! Who doesn't like an easy meal!
However, the foods that we traditionally feed them at local ponds are utterly unsuitable for them and are likely to cause health problems down the road. Also, there may be local laws against feeding this species of bird - so it's best to check on that rather than facing consequences at a later stage.
- Foods that can be fed to Ducks, Geese and Swans to survive cold winters and remain healthy when food is scarce in their environment.
Please note that feeding ducks and geese makes them dependent on humans for food, which can result in starvation and possibly death when those feedings stop. If you decide to feed them, please limit the quantity to make sure that they maintain their natural ability to forage for food themselves - providing, of course, that natural food sources are available.
Species Research by Sibylle Johnson
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