Greater Scaup

greater scaup
The white wing band extending in the primaries is the best visual indicator of Greater Scaup. In hand, look for a green sheen to their black heads.

Greater Scaup (Aythya marina) is the slightly larger relative of lesser scaup. Primarily a marine species, they’re colloquially referred to as Broadbills in North America. Blue-bills refer to either scaup species, collectively. Two races of greater scaup have been recognized in the northern hemisphere, with the nominate race distributed throughout Old World and said to be slightly larger. Greater scaup have a rounder head and wider blue bill than lesser scaup. Both sexes have powder blue bills tipped with black, though the hen displays a more muted tone. The drake has a black head which shows green iridescence in the right lighting and bright yellow irises. While the neck, chest, and rump are all black, they are separated by a vermiculated gray back and white plumage on either side. The hen’s plumage is mostly bight brown, except the white underbelly, white plumage surrounding the bill, and dark tail feathers. This species is not exceptionally vocal, however during courtship, drakes will rapidly but quietly hoot.