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Lesser Scaup


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

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
15.4–18.1 in
39–46 cm
26.8–30.7 in
68–78 cm
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).
  • The oldest recorded Lesser Scaup was a male, and at least 17 years, 7 months old when he was shot in Wisconsin in 1973. He had been banded in Maryland in 1956.



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



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


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



Surface Dive

Dives under water to capture food.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

Lesser Scaup are common, but populations are declining. Between 1966 and 2015, the species declined by about 60%, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Lesser Scaup rates a 12 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. It is not on the 2016 State of North America's Birds Watch List. The continental population of breeding birds exhibits large yearly fluctuations.


Range Map Help

Lesser Scaup Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

You Might Also Like

Simple Steps for Identifying Confusing Brown Ducks—Females and Otherwise, All About Birds blog, November 21, 2014.

What to Watch For: Duck Courtship [video], All About Birds blog, January 20, 2015.



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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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