Scaup Guys

(Burrowing Owl Update Below)

Scaup (Aythya sp.)

At least three quarters of the scaup in this video are males. They have the white or light grey back. Females have a brownish back and have two white patches over their bills. They’ve come from the Arctic or sub-Arctic. The sexes tend to segregate to a great extent during migration, with the males leaving first and the females and first-year juveniles coming a bit later. The video shows two of the trains of scaup that arrived separately and at the moment were paddling in different directions. Later they bumped into each other and the more or less orderly movement of each train merged into a chaotic great circle with birds moving every which way. Some of these ducks are treating our North Basin as a rest and refueling stop on their way to greener pastures further south. Others seem to be settling in for the season, although it’s too early to be sure of that.

If there’s a scaup expert reading this who can say with warranted confidence whether these are Greater Scaup or Lesser Scaup, feel free to weigh in with a comment, please. I’m suspending judgment. They are definitely of the scaup (Aythya) species. There are reports that gender segregation during migration is typical of Greater and not of Lesser Scaup, which would suggest that these are Greater. But those are not absolute distinctions.

Burrowing Owl Update

For the second day in a row, the Burrowing Owl could not be seen in either of its habitual perches or anywhere else. The owl was previously absent for two days in a row on Nov. 2 and 3, and Nov. 13 and 14. See “Pendulum Owl,” Nov 30 2022. Watch this space for daily updates.

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