Greater ScaupAythya marila

adult male, breeding
Jari Peltomaki/VIREO
adult female, breeding
Arthur Morris/VIREO
immature male (1st year) Tufted Duck in front
Steve Young/VIREO
adult male, nonbreeding
Steve Young/VIREO
adult male, breeding
Arthur Morris/VIREO
adult female, breeding
Rob Curtis/VIREO
Greater Scaup


15-20" (38-51 cm). Male has very light gray body, blackish chest, and black-appearing, green-glossed head. Female is a uniform dark brown with white patch at base of bill. Both sexes have long whitish wing stripe. See Lesser Scaup.


Usually silent; discordant croaking calls on breeding grounds.


harsh female calls
courting group


Lakes, bays, and ponds; often on salt water in winter.


Breeds in Alaska and northern Canada east to Hudson Bay and occasionally in Maritime Provinces. Winters mainly along Pacific, Gulf, and Atlantic coasts. Also in Eurasia.


The Greater Scaup is the more common of the two scaup in the northern United States, where it is usually seen in large rafts, often composed of thousands of birds, on large lakes or coastal bays. Although the two scaup can be difficult to tell apart, any very large flock of scaup on the northeast coast in winter may be assumed to be the Greater. Because it dives for mollusks and other animals and is not as much of a vegetarian as the Redhead or the Canvasback, the Greater Scaup is not considered as choice a game bird, although it is still shot in large numbers annually.


8-12 olive-buff eggs in a down-lined cup of grass concealed in a clump of grass on land or in marsh vegetation well out from shore.

Similar Species

adult male, breeding

Lesser Scaup

15-18" (38-46 cm). Male has very light gray body, blackish chest, and black-appearing head.

adult male, breeding

Ring-necked Duck

14-18" (36-46 cm). Male has black back and breast; purple-glossed, black-appearing angular head; pale gray flanks; vertical white mark on side of breast.

adult male, breeding

Tufted Duck

17" (43 cm). Male a stocky blackish duck with flashing white flanks and wispy crest. Female warm brown, paler on flanks, with small white patch at base of bill; little or no crest.


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