Mystery Bird: Greater Scaup, Aythya marila

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[Mystery bird] Greater Scaup, Aythya marila, photographed in 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:
Push me into a corner and I guess I’d call this a Greater Scaup. The bill is very broad, and the black, though it doesn’t reach the edge of the bill, does “bleed” outwards from the nail. The head is nowhere skinny, starting beefy at the crown and expanding regularly to become fat at the neck. The vermiculations of the back are fine. But this is a good example of how much easier birds are in the field than in photos!
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. RM says:

    From that angle, I’ll say greater scaup.

  2. Yeah, I’d guess greater scaup as well. But I’d feel obligated to watch the bird for a while and try to second-guess myself.

  3. The Ridger says:

    Tricky angle, but I say greater scaup, too. Also I say it was taken on the same day as yesterday’s – but that’s a guess.

  4. Bob O'H says:

    Ha, Ridger, you’re obviously only an amateur at this. It’s clear from the lighting that both photos were taken on the 22nd December.
    These are great photos, though, aren’t they?

  5. The Ridger says:

    Morning or afternoon, Bob?
    And yes they are.

  6. Bob O'H says:

    This one? Early afternoon – just before 2pm. The other one was 15 seconds earlier.

  7. JohnB says:

    Lesser Scaup