Mystery Bird: Lesser Scaup, Aythya affinis

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[Mystery bird] Lesser Scaup, Aythya affinis, photographed in Hermann Park Lagoon, Texas. [I will identify this bird for you tomorrow]
Image: Joseph Kennedy, 12 December 2005 [larger view].
Nikon D200, Kowa 883 telescope TSN-PZ camera eyepiece 1/160s f/8.0 at 500.0mm iso400.


Rick Wright, Managing Director of WINGS Birding Tours Worldwide, writes:
This is a fine image of the bill color and pattern of Lesser Scaup: note how the jet black of the bill tip is strictly limited to the nail, with no “bleed” to the sides. The vermiculation of the back is coarse, and vermiculations are readily discernible on the white sides. Head-on, the distribution of muscle on the head reminds me of Redhead: fairly narrow at the top of the head, big puffy cheeks, then a rapid curve into the neck.
Review all mystery birds to date.

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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: Lesser Scaup, Aythya affinis

  1. RM says:

    lesser scaup drake aka bluebill

  2. Bob O'H says:

    Bluebill? Makes it sound like a pirate. Paddling the Spanish Main, with Drake I guess.

  3. The Ridger says:

    I concur: lesser scaup.

  4. The Ridger says:

    ps – are we done with scaups now? Are you going to tell us if we got them right?

  5. Smilodon says:

    It’s the other scaup: look at the shape of the dark tip to the bill. The spot is more vertical on Lesser and more horizontal on Greater.

  6. 1hen2ducks says:

    Greater, . . . . . . . I think.
    It just looks bigger and less lesser

  7. JohnB says:

    If the last one was a Greater, then this, surely, is a Lesser Scaup.

  8. Hilary says:

    Lesser Scaup drake – the shape of the black tip of the bill is the key. It’s a great field mark… if you can get close enough to see it, which isn’t easy except at places like Lake Merritt in Oakland, California, where both scaups winter in huge numbers and many become utterly unconcerned about featherless bipeds.