Mystery Bird: Greater Scaup, Aythya marila

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[Mystery bird] Greater Scaup, Aythya marila, photographed at Oakland, California. [I will identify this bird for you tomorrow]
Image: Joseph Kennedy, 22 December 2007 [larger view].
Nikon D200, Kowa 883 telescope TSN-PZ camera eyepiece 1/350s f/8.0 at 1000.0mm iso400.

Rick Wright, Managing Director of WINGS Birding Tours Worldwide, writes:
Another scaup to light my way to the fall! This bird’s full nape continues without a break or notch to the high point of the crown, which is above or perhaps even slightly ahead of the eye; the forehead shows a subtle curve into a large, boat-shaped bill. Black covers the entire tip of the bill, reaching from the nail all the way out to the edge. Note, too, that the vermiculations visible on some of the back feathers are decidedly fine; compare that pattern to the rather coarse banding on the feathers of the back of our recent Lesser Scaup.
This is a Greater Scaup. But I don’t know whether it’s a male or a female: ideas?
Review all mystery birds to date.


About GrrlScientist

grrlscientist is the pseudonym of an evolutionary biologist and ornithologist who writes about evolution, ethology, and ecology, especially in birds. After earning a degree in microbiology (thesis focus: virology) and working at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, she earned her PhD in zoology from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she studied the molecular correlates of testosterone and behaviour in white-crowned sparrows. She then worked a Chapman Postdoctoral Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where she studied the speciation and distribution of lories and other parrots throughout the South Pacific Islands. A discarded scientist, she returned to her roots: writing. Formerly hosted by The Guardian (UK), she now writes about science for Forbes and for the non-profit think tank, the Evolution Institute and she writes podcasts for BirdNote Radio. An avid lifelong birder and aviculturist, she lives with a flock of songbirds and parrots somewhere in Germany.
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0 Responses to Mystery Bird: Greater Scaup, Aythya marila

  1. JohnB says:

    female Greater Scaup

  2. Bob O'H says:

    Can we wait until getting the answer to yesterday’s bird before replying? Based on that discussion, this is obviously some sort of scaup.
    According to the translation of the Kalevala (the Finnish folk epic), the world was created from a scaup’s eggs. It laid its eggs on a girl’s knee whilst she was floating about, but she twitched when the nest got too hot, and the eggs fell off and broke.

  3. MRL says:

    I can say with some confidence that it is…a duck!
    Afraid that I have not the foggiest idea of any more precise identification, though.

  4. MRL says:

    I can say with some confidence that it is…a duck!
    Afraid that I have not the foggiest idea of any more precise identification, though.

  5. The Ridger says:

    Another scaup. Ummmm. If yesterday’s was a lesser, this is a greater?
    All I know is, she’s wet.

  6. Rick Quarton says:

    Definitely, a female scaup. Probably a Greater Scaup,Aythya marila.