From isolated arctic breeding grounds, the Greater Scaup migrates considerably south for the winter, with many birds traveling as far as the Gulf Coast. These movements typically take place in flocks. Though occasionally seen with Lesser Scaup, Greater Scaup typically flock together in single-species groups.
Both male and female Greater Scaup frequently return to the same breeding area in subsequent years. Cold and wet weather is a significant source of mortality for young scaup, but those that survive can live a long time. The record known age for a wild bird is 22 years.
Greater Scaup and Lesser Scaup are very similar in appearance. They are one of the most difficult identification challenges. Visit the ‘Compare’ page for additional information.
Difficult to tell in the field, but the bill of the Greater Scaup is slightly longer and wider than the bill of the Lesser Scaup.
Compare the shape of the head on the three birds above with the shape of the head of the two images that follow below. The photographer identified them as Greater Scaup. Do you agree? Check out the page on Lesser Scaup and the Comparison page to help you decide.
Sam is the founder of Birdzilla.com. He has been birding for over 30 years and has a world list of over 2000 species. He has served as treasurer of the Texas Ornithological Society, Sanctuary Chair of Dallas Audubon, Editor of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" web site and as a contributing editor for Birding Business magazine. Many of his photographs and videos can be found on the site.