- Greater Scaup
name = Greater Scaup
status = LC | status_system = IUCN3.1
image_width = 200px
image_caption = Female (front) and male (rear)
phylum = Chordata
classis = Aves
genus = "
species = "A. marila"
binomial = "Aythya marila"
binomial_authority = (Linnaeus,
subdivision = "A. m. marila"
(Eurasian Greater Scaup)
"A. m. nearctica"
(Nearctic Greater Scaup)
The Greater Scaup ("Aythya marila"), just Scaup in
Europe, or colloquially known as "Bluebill", is a small diving duck. It breeds on the ground by lakes and bogs on the tundraand at the northern limits of the boreal forestacross Arctic and subarctic regions of northern North America, Europe and Asia.
The adult Greater Scaup is 42–51 cm long with a 71–80 cm wingspan, larger than the
Lesser Scaup. It has a blue bill and yellow eyes. The male has a dark head with a green sheen, a black breast, a light back, a black tail and a white bottom. The adult female has a white band at the base of the bill and a brown head and body. NearcticGreater Scaup are separable from Palaearcticbirds by stronger vermiculation on the mantle and scapulars, and are considered a separate subspecies, "A. m. nearctica". Based on size differences, a Pleistocene paleosubspecies, "Aythya marila asphaltica", has also been described from fossils recovered at Binagady, Azerbaijan.
Greater Scaup migrate southwards to winter in flocks to coastal waters.
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. [William H. Longley, [http://elibrary.unm.edu/sora/Auk/v066n02/p0200-p0200.pdf Greater scaup eating frogs] , 1948.]
The Greater Scaup's name may come from "scalp", a Scottish and
Northern Englishword for a shellfish bed ("probably" the same word as the scalpof the head), ["New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary"] or from the duck's display call "scaup scaup". It is usually silent when not breeding.
The Greater Scaup is one of the species to which the "Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds" (
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. [ [http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/birds/blubill/conclusi.htm| USGS 2006. Declines of Greater and Lesser Scaup Populations] ] Some researchers believe a parasitic
trematodefound in snails may be to blame. [ [http://www.ducks.org/news/1420/3000Scaupfounddeadon.html 3,000 Scaup found dead on Minnesota Lake - Ducks Unlimited November 7, 2007] ]
* Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
* "Splitting headaches? Recent taxonomic changes affecting the British and Western Palaearctic lists" - Martin Collinson, British Birds vol 99 (June 2006), 306-323
* Madge and Burn, "Wildfowl" ISBN 0-7470-2201-1
* [http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Greater_Scaup.html Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Greater Scaup]
* [http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/id/framlst/i1480id.html USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter: Greater Scaup]
* [http://sdakotabirds.com/species/greater_scaup_info.htm South Dakota Birds and Birding: Greater Scaup]
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