She Gets Away

Scaup female pursued by two males

Only a loose scattering of about a hundred Scaup remained on the North Basin, and most of those were napping at mid-morning. But here and there a few birds showed agitation. One such scene involved two males (white flanks) pursuing a female (all brown except for a white face mask). Their intentions weren’t clear but whatever they may have been, she wasn’t having any. She maneuvered left and right, doubled back, and cut close to a big Grebe that slowed the males down, all in vain. Finally she turned on the afterburners and made a run for it. That worked. She lost them. Eventually she slowed down and turned to the important business of preening.

Scaup do their nesting, egg-laying, and hatching in the summer in the far north, above the Arctic Circle. Most of the ones we see here probably breed in northern Alaska. However, they do their pairing up and mating during the northward migration in springtime, at rest stops along the way, like our park. Chances are that the two males looked at the female as a potential breeding partner. Clearly she wasn’t impressed. Possibly she made her getaway run as a test to see whether the males had the power and stamina necessary to claim her. They failed. Well, there’s plenty of other scaup on the bay.

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