Birds of Seabrook Island

COAST BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  Lesser Scaup
 
 

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  Order Anseriformes - Waterfowl
   Family Anatidae - Ducks, Geese, and Swans
      Subfamily Anatinae - True Ducks
         Tribe Aythyini - Bay Ducks (Pochards)
  Waterfowl vary in size - from teal to swans. They all have webbed feet and dense, waterproof plumage. Most nest on the ground and the nest is lined with down plucked by the female from her breast. Except for two small groups not found in North America, all belong to one (or two) families.
Ducks, Geese, and Swans are waterfowl with their bill finely serrated or grooved on the edge. Their tongue is fleshy. Their front toes are webbed. Males have a functional penis. They are strong fliers and many migrate long distances. 
True Ducks are sexually dimorphic. The female incubates and cares for the young - the male usually deserts early. Ducks undergo a simultaneous molt of their flight feathers and are flightless until the flight feathers of the alternate plumage regrow. Thus, males wear their nuptial plumage on the winter grounds where pair formation occurs in most species. 
Bay Ducks are heavy-bodied diving ducks that use their feet while underwater.   
     
     
  Lesser Scaup, Aythya affinis
 
  Cornell     USGS     Wiki     ToL     EoL
        WINTER - Common / Fairly common
            PONDS, ESTUARIES (fresh-water likely in winter)
MORE PICTURES
 
   Lesser Scaup are typical bay ducks. Females are brown with a bit of white just behind the bill. Males are darker than females and, in breeding plumage, have a dark (often bluish and iridescent) head, a small straight bill, a gray back, and white flanks.
   Lesser Scaup are difficult to distinguish from Greater Scaup - they have less white in the wings, a thinner neck with a smaller, straighter bill, a smaller head with a taller crown or corner (angled contour). In full sunlight, males have a bluish iridescence on the head and neck but this is not a reliable field mark.
Lesser Scaup
     
Lesser Scaup. Palmetto Lake.
Note identifying "corner" on head
   
  RANGE: Lesser Scaup breed broadly from Wyoming north to Hudson Bay and central Alaska. In winter they prefer fresh water ponds in the US from New England south to Texas and the Pacific coast. In winter, they range through Central America and the West Indies to northern South America (Ecuador).
  BREEDING: Monogamous. One brood. Lesser Scaup build a nest in open habitat near water. It is lined with grass and down (but less than in other ducks). The female builds as she lays 9-11 (8-14) eggs. Development is precocial. The male usually deserts at the beginning of incubation. Young leave the nest shortly after hatching and are tended by the female. They often form crèches tended by 1-3 females. Rarely, more than one female lays in a nest (nest parasitism). Young can fly after 40-50 days.
  DIET: Scaup feed on mollusks (clams and snails) and aquatic invertebrates (amphipods in particular), and aquatic vegetation. They forage by diving and swimming underwater. Large items are eaten at the surface. They may also dabble and upend. They may feed at night.
  VOICE: Female gives a rough, grating "garf garf..."
  NOTES:
   Checklists -
      Seabrook. Kiawah - common fall through spring. Edisto - winter
      Coastal - common winter visitor. Hilton Head - common winter visitor. Cape Romain - not listed.
         Huntington Beach
- uncommon October; common November - February; uncommon March-April
      Caw Caw - uncommon/absent/uncommon/uncommon. ACE - rare/absent/rare/occasional.
   CBC: ACE 10, 50, 718, 9, 273, 100, 361, 45; Charleston 2527, 5553, 1520, 850, 400, 5, 102, 12;
            St Helena/Fripp x, x, x, x, x, x, 0, 160; Hilton Head 389, 9, 617, 88, 20, 9, 17, 2826; Sun City/Okatie 0, 3, 2, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0;
            McClellanville 135, 151, 558, 58, nc, 217, 403, 2707; Winyah Bay x, x, 73, 41, 1, 26, 55, 650; 
                Litchfield/Pawley's 10, 1092, 29, 5, 149, 22, 24, 35.
    Scaup sp.: Charleston 0,60, 0, 20, 1, 0, 420, 45;
       Hilton Head 0, 0, 0 ,9, 0, 0, 0, 78;
       Winyah Bay x, x, 4, 0, 21, 0, 0, 150; Litchfield/Pawley's 0, 2400, 0, 0, 0, 9, 0, 0.
   P&G: Abundant on coast, Maximum 50,000 Charleston Harbor, 23 January 1971. Dates: 20 October - 22 June.
   Avendex: 7 records, January - early June.
   Potter: Fairly common to locally abundant winter resident from October to May. More likely on fresh water but large rafts may occur along the coast. Not known to breed in the Carolinas.
  ● Lesser Scaup were common in the  winter of 2006-7 on the new lake at Freshfield Village (30 or more feeding with a few Buffleheads, Hooded Mergansers, and Pied-billed Grebes). They have also been regular on Palmetto Lake (with a few Buffleheads and Hooded Mergansers). Watch for larger rafts offshore...
       
    Banner - Lesser Scaup, Palmetto Lake.
       
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