Greater ScaupAythya marila (Linnaeus)
Status Fairly common transient, uncommon in winter. Autumn arrivals are generally first reported in October (average 18 October, earliest 16 September). It may remain abundant until the end of the year, when large flocks are sometimes seen during Christmas Bird Counts (1500 were seen on 16 December 1973 off Cape Sable Island). In winter it occurs in reduced numbers along the coast from Yarmouth to Sydney in waters where food is available. The spring migration begins along the Eastern Shore and elsewhere during February and reaches its peak during March or early April. Last spring sightings generally occur in late April (average 21 April, latest 8 May). The foregoing extreme dates probably represent under-reporting of the species, which may at times occur well offshore in larger bays.
Description Length: 43-53 cm. Adult male: Head, neck, breast, rump, tail and tail coverts black, the head with greenish reflections; back, sides and belly white; back and sides finely marked with wavy black lines; wing patch white; bill dull blue with black tip; legs dark gray. Females: Area around base of bill white; head, neck, breast and back dark brown; sides grayish brown; wing patch and belly white; legs dark gray; bill dull bluish gray with black tip.
Range Breeds in Alaska, northwestern Canada, around Hudson Bay and James Bay, the Magdalen Islands, Anticosti Island and Newfoundland. Winters from the Aleutian Islands, the Great Lakes and the coasts of southern Canada as far south as the Gulf Coast. It also occurs in the Old World.
Remarks Among duck-hunters this bird is popularly known as a "blue-bill" or "greater blue-bill." Its proper name is probably derived from the bird's infrequent call, scaup scaup. It is a particularly hardy duck, capable of withstanding severe cold and rough weather in winter along the coast where it "rafts" in the vicinity of its feeding grounds. If it is shot over water, the bird is seldom retrieved by hunters unless killed or severely wounded because it swims quickly underwater and keeps most of its head below water when it does rise to the surface.
There is a report that a Greater Scaup followed by a brood was seen during summer 1968 in the Red River Lakes area of Inverness County, where the elevation is about 425 m. This was reported at Cape Breton Highlands National Park headquarters by a visiting tourist who seemed to know his birds (W. Neily).
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