The Blue Bill?Great series of pictures. The breakup that makes everyone happy...fishing...it's all good. Springtime in Alaska.
Hi, Cathy, I have 2 bird books and I got right to work checking on your duck photos.It wasn't hard finding that your first photo is of a Greater Scaup, a male, and the second photo is a female, his mate most likely. She is really easy to identify because she's brown and has that telltale white patch above her bill. This duck breeds in Alaska and Northern Canada, and winters mostly along the Pacific coast. The female lays "8-12 olive-buff eggs in a down-lined cup of grass concealed in a clump of grass on land or in marsh vegetation well out from shore." Step carefully when you're outside, I'd say! I love your blog and the photos you take. Nice job! Good to see the bare ground around there now! Enjoy your summer.Sharon in Wisconsin
Becky, you were kinda right because some people around here call these Bluebills, but Sharon is actually correct. They are both Greater Scaup. A mated pair.
It's a scaup. It feels like a lesser scaup to me, but if you think Greater, I'll go with that. Esp. if the picture was taken over saltwater.
Lesser and greater scaups are very similiar, but lesser scaups have a noticable bump on the back of their heads.
I've found that's not always a good diagnostic for which is which... frequently the bump can be hidden by either feeding or flight. Especially flight. And aggressive Greater drakes can look like they have one. Or, heck, even weird angles when you see them. There's supposed to be a trick where you compare the bill-to-head to the keel-to-vent to pick which is which, but I can't do that.
I also thought that Greaters were bulkier with a bigger head than lessers. It would be nice to have one to look at up close, but we consider these "fish ducks" and don't hunt them. Fish ducks are yucky, which is also how I feel about brants, but a lot of people around here would argue with me about that.
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