Winter Scaup

Willet (Tringa semipalmata) watches feeding Greater Scaup (Aythya marila)

The thousands of Greater Scaup that visited the North Basin in late October mostly moved on, but a few dozen chose to stay. Why these remained and the others departed is another issue for my MATWOB (Mysterious Are The Ways Of Birds) file. Whatever their thinking, they’ve been hanging out loosely, as if social distancing, mostly off the north shore of the park, but occasionally elsewhere. I see them frequently diving, so the feeding must be good enough to keep them here. This particular female rounded the northeast corner of the park and snacked on the underwater greenery that clings to the rocks there. Scaup aren’t picky about food. They like proteins such as snails, shrimp, and water bugs, but are also happy with seaweed, aquatic seeds, and roots. They can dive down to 20 feet or more if they want to. Perched on the stone above, a solitary Willet glanced at, but mostly ignored the duck. The Willet can swim a bit, but it lacks webs on its toes to propel it at speed, so it’s not a distance swimmer and not a diver at all.

Willet (Tringa semipalmata) watches feeding Greater Scaup (Aythya marila)
Other Greater Scaup females (Aythya marila)
Greater Scaup male (Aythya marila)

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