18th February – Scaups on Sea Street, New Haven

After being confined to the house due to a bout of bronchitis, a quick walk to the bottom of the street to check the harbor resulted in good views of several more quackers; Lesser Scaup numbers had increased and the three Redheads were still present. A few more Greater Scaup were admixed with the Lessers providing good comparisions.

Female scaups - Greater (front right) and Lesser (behind left)

Note the head shapes – the less broad head and thinner neck look of the Lesser, the sloped crown of the Greater (with high point of crown in front of eye). Color of body plumage and amount of white on face is variable, so usually id. of birds is based on size, head shape and bill shape. Note here the Greater has a more spatulate bill with the dark of the nail extending more onto the sides .

Male scaups - Greater (in front) and Lesser (behind)

Lone birds can be really tricky, but when seen together, note the differences in head shape. Here the Greater has the typical greenish head sheen while the Lesser has typical purplish. Some of the literature describes Lesser “riding higher in the water” but as above this may be misleading. The coarser vermiculations on Lesser compared with Greater may also be difiicult to determine in the field.


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