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Lesser Scaup

Aythya affinis ORDER: ANSERIFORMES FAMILY: ANATIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Two scaup species live in North America: the Greater Scaup prefers salt water and is found in America and Eurasia, while the Lesser Scaup prefers freshwater and is found only in North America. The Lesser Scaup is one of the most abundant and widespread of the diving ducks in North America

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At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
15.4–18.1 in
39–46 cm
Wingspan
26.8–30.7 in
68–78 cm
Weight
16–38.4 oz
454–1089 g
Other Names
  • Petit fuligule, Petit morillon (French)
  • Pato boludo-menor, Pato del medio (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The Lesser Scaup is a regular, if relatively uncommon, visitor to Hawaii, and is the third most abundant duck in the state. Only the Hawaiian Duck actually breeds there.
  • An adult Lesser Scaup may pretend to be dead (immobile with head extended, eyes open, and wings held close to body) when grasped by a red fox.
  • Lesser Scaup chicks are capable of diving under water on their hatching day, but they are too buoyant to stay under for more than just a moment. By the time they are 5 to 7 weeks old they are able to dive for 2-25 seconds and swim underwater for 15-18 meters (50-60 ft).

Habitat


Lake/Pond

Found on lakes and ponds. Winters in fresh or brackish water.

Food


Insects

Clams, snails, crustaceans, aquatic insects, seeds, and aquatic plants.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
6–14 eggs
Egg Description
Pale to dark olive or greenish buff.
Condition at Hatching
Downy and eyes open. Leave nest as soon as they are dry. Feed themselves immediately.
Nest Description

Bowl of grasses or other vegetation, lined with down. Placed on ground or in mound of vegetation over water.

Nest Placement

Ground

Behavior


Surface Dive

Dives under water to capture food.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Common. The continental population of breeding Lesser Scaup exhibits large yearly fluctuations. There has been a marked recent decline in populations.

Credits

  • Austin, J. E., C. M. Custer, and A. D. Afton. 1998. Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis). In The Birds of North America, No. 338 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Range Map Help

Lesser Scaup Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings