Skip to main content

Bird Gallery

Lesser Scaup

Lesser Scaup (male)
Lesser Scaup (male)

© Alan Murphy

Aythya affinis

Family: (Anatidae) Ducks, Geese and Swans 

Preferred Habitat: Lakes and coastal bays

Seasonal Occurrence: Abundant December through February; also fairly common March through May.

Notes by Vicki Stittleburg: Nicknamed 'Bluebills', Lesser Scaup are one of our most common diving ducks in winter. Adult males in breeding plumage have a purplish head, bluish bill with black tip, white back with thin, black wavy lines, white sides, black breast and hindquarters. In nonbreeding plumage, adult males have a black head and chest, a brown midsection and a dark tail. Adult females are dark brown overall with a well defined white area at the base of the bill. Both sexes have yellow eyes. They can be easily confused with their rarer relative, the Greater Scaup which prefers salt water and are found mainly on the Atlantic and Pacific coast.

Lesser Scaup can be found on lakes, ponds and coastal bays. Anahuac NWR and Warren Lake are good places to observe these ducks. In recent years Lesser Scaup populations have experienced a marked decline. Studies are being conducted to understand the causes and how to reverse the trend. A simple way that anyone can participate in wildlife and habitat conservation is purchasing a Federal Duck Stamp.


Lesser Scaup (female)
Lesser Scaup (female)

© Joanne Kamo