GREATER SCAUP (Aythya marila)
The Greater scaup is a diving duck of medium size. The head and breast are black, the sides are white and the back is finely striated black and white (male). The female has a dark brown head, a blue bill and a brown body. The eyes are yellow.
The name ‘Scaup’ would origin from Sottish ‘scalp’ and refers to a ledge in the water, where these ducks gather to feed. ‘Greater’ implies that there’s also a ‘Lesser Scaup’. The Latin genus name ‘Aythya’ comes from Greek and refers to a ‘kind of waterbird’, and the species name ‘marila’ means ‘charcoal’ in Greek, in reference to the black color in the drake.
The greater scaup breeds in the Arctic but is common in PEI in the winter. It feeds on crustaceans, insects and plants, so it needs open waters in the winter to survive. This bird forms large flocks (rafts).
The greater scaup is a game bird. Its population is threatened by habitat loss and degradation due to contaminants in the water from where it feeds along its migratory routes.