Possible Greater Scaup: Page Springs 1/7/17
7 Jan 2017, 5:37 PM,
#1
Possible Greater Scaup: Page Springs 1/7/17
While at Page Springs today, 1/7/17, this one duck stood out to me.

From its looks and shape of its head, it looks like a Greater Scaup to me, but I am just not sure.

Is it?

Gary


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7 Jan 2017, 10:04 PM,
#2
RE: Possible Greater Scaup: Page Springs 1/7/17
I found this pic of the Scaup in front of a Ring-necked duck. 

According to Kaufman, Ring-necks are 17", Lesser Scaup 16", Greater Scaup 18".

In this picture, the two ducks line up pretty well. The Scaup does appear to look a couple of inches bigger than the Ring-necked Duck.

Gary


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8 Jan 2017, 9:38 PM,
#3
RE: Possible Greater Scaup: Page Springs 1/7/17
1. nanette & i went to the bubbling ponds this afternoon and hoped to find gary's scaup to see if it looked less weird than the pictures.
2. we did find the bird, and it looks just as weird as his pictures.
3. the head looks rounded but i don't think the shape is quite right for greater. it should be rounded but it should be peaked more forward, closer to above the eye. the bill does indeed look a bit larger than normal for a lesser, but the nail is way too small for a typical greater. if someone goes for it, maybe get it to fly to watch it long enough to see its underwing wingstripe - probably the most definitive field mark.
4. so we saw the bird very well and still are not sure either way.
rich armstrong
richarmstrong@q.com
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9 Jan 2017, 8:38 AM,
#4
RE: Possible Greater Scaup: Page Springs 1/7/17
Rich, you expressed my initial feelings about the bird...it looks weird.

I was also wondering at the time, could it possibly be some kind of hybrd?

Anyway, I would be very interested in any opinions as to what we have here.

Gary
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9 Jan 2017, 9:13 AM,
#5
RE: Possible Greater Scaup: Page Springs 1/7/17
Gary,
I suspect the radio-silence reflects several issues: 1) scaups are tough to ID!, 2) your bird seems particularly indistinct, 3) many NAZ birders (like me) don't have regular experience with the two. My impression, which probably isn't worth much, is that the bird's head shape is ambiguous; the bill looks on the slim size with a not particularly large nail (better for Lesser); overall size is ambiguous. So, I tilt toward Lesser, but only very slightly.
Maybe post your picture on a bird ID forum on Facebook to get wider attention?

Jason
Flagstaff, AZ
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9 Jan 2017, 6:40 PM,
#6
RE: Possible Greater Scaup: Page Springs 1/7/17
My impression (also, for what it's worth) is that this is a Lesser. I would say that in the majority of the photos I see the corner at the back of the head that I think is strongly correlated with Lesser. In my (limited, but not minimal?) experience, while a Lesser does not *always* show the corner, a Greater really never does. Photos 1 & 2 are the "most" Lesser, 5 & 6 still look Lesser to me, and 3 and 4 (especially 4) are ambiguous, but that's to be expected with any scaup, that some views will be ambiguous. That is all on head shape alone. I agree that the nail seems small. I don't necessarily feel like I have a good handle on analyzing bill size.
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10 Jan 2017, 10:06 AM,
#7
RE: Possible Greater Scaup: Page Springs 1/7/17
1. i sent sam hough, fastest camerain the west, out there and told him to find
the bird, flush the bird, and photo bird in flight. he got these 2 in
flight.
2. although i agree with the earlier probability it was mostly a lesser scaup, these pictures are surely diagnostic for greater scaup with white well out onto the primaries.
3. so definitely a weird bird, but now it seems to be a weird greater scaup with a small nail, and odd head.
4. thanks to gary for finding the bird and challenging us all.
rich armstrong
928-282-3675


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10 Jan 2017, 10:59 AM,
#8
RE: Possible Greater Scaup: Page Springs 1/7/17
Based on the amount of the white on the face, I don't think Sam's bird can possibly be the same as Gary's!
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10 Jan 2017, 11:50 AM,
#9
RE: Possible Greater Scaup: Page Springs 1/7/17
1. well my mistake - it did not occur to my quick to assume brain that there might be another greater scaup candidate there.
2. so we will still not know what gary's bird is, but i and sam found another bird that is a greater scaup.
rich armstrong
richarmstrong@q.com
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10 Jan 2017, 12:29 PM,
#10
RE: Possible Greater Scaup: Page Springs 1/7/17
Frankly, that is pretty funny. I agree that the wingstripe on Sam's bird looks good for GRSC.

Jason
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10 Jan 2017, 2:01 PM,
#11
RE: Possible Greater Scaup: Page Springs 1/7/17
No fair!

I wanted my bird to finally be deemed a Greater Scaup!

Darn!

By the way, I posted my pics on Whatbird.com (a site where people seek help in identifying birds).

On this site, normally, you get at least a dozen opinions.

Apparently, not too many people want to take a shot at IDing the bird.

One guy declined a positive ID. One guy thought it was a Greater Scaup.

Gary
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10 Jan 2017, 3:46 PM,
#12
RE: Possible Greater Scaup: Page Springs 1/7/17
Here is a resource:

http://digitalcollections.pugetsound.edu...1179/rec/1

and


http://digitalcollections.pugetsound.edu...1427/rec/1
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10 Jan 2017, 4:42 PM,
#13
RE: Possible Greater Scaup: Page Springs 1/7/17
The on the water pictures are of a male.  The flying pictures are of a female.  The white on the face of the male looks like some sort of crusty substance (like TUVUs get on their heads).  The crust is not the same from right side to left side, also indicating it is not a feather pattern.  I don't remember what causes the white crusts on TUVU; maybe it is fungus.
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10 Jan 2017, 7:12 PM,
#14
RE: Possible Greater Scaup: Page Springs 1/7/17
My first record for GRSC at Page Springs. Rich - do you know of any records for Sedona Wastewater?
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10 Jan 2017, 8:21 PM,
#15
RE: Possible Greater Scaup: Page Springs 1/7/17
1. 1st i know of no records of greater scaup at sedona wetlands - certainly not in last 6 years. maybe tom linda can comment on the years before that as he did cbcs.
2. on sunday when nanette & i were there we looked at every pond and had 6 total scaup - the 1 that sam took pictures of that turned out to be greater, 4 definite lesser scaup, and now looking back probably gary's bird. i stupidly kind of ignored that because we had a better candidate, and i forgot his was a young male.
3. now sam went out on monday and he says there were 20+ scaup. so it is possible that there are more greater scaup?
4. so as jason says this is pretty funny, and now even more complicated. these are not always easy.
5. sorry gary, i thought i was proving a greater scaup for you, but turns out i found a different one, and i still lean more toward lesser for your bird.
6. i suspect more people will now be going to the bubbling ponds (where you can get very close to ducks), and we will see what is seen.
rich armstrong
richarmstrong@q.com
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10 Jan 2017, 8:51 PM,
#16
RE: Possible Greater Scaup: Page Springs 1/7/17
Are there any photos of the female scaup before she flew?
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10 Jan 2017, 9:18 PM,
#17
RE: Possible Greater Scaup: Page Springs 1/7/17
Should we be purposefully flushing birds for ID purposes? Sorry.... Smile
Brian
bhealyphoto@gmail.com
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11 Jan 2017, 8:54 AM,
#18
RE: Possible Greater Scaup: Page Springs 1/7/17
For what it's worth, I judge the female's wing pattern to be that of a Lesser Scaup. The wing stripe turns from bright white on the secondaries to off white on the primaries, rather than the continuous white that is shown by Greater Scaup.

Christian
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11 Jan 2017, 9:20 AM,
#19
RE: Possible Greater Scaup: Page Springs 1/7/17
Also for what it's worth, the full digitized scaup wing collection at the Slater Museum initially linked by Chuck is worth looking at. Here is a link to thumbnails of multiple greater and lesser scaups:
http://digitalcollections.pugetsound.edu...rder/title

My impression from these pictures is that the difference in wingstripe can be quite subtle, particularly for females.

As always for these tough birds, this suggests to me that one should not rely on a single character for making a definitive ID. Head shape, bill details and size would all help to round out an identification in this case. And, of course, all of this is easiest if there is a nearby Lesser Scaup for direct comparison!

Anyway, I am not a scaup-ologist, or even much of a scaup-ophile, but I am finding this an interesting learning opportunity.

Jason
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11 Jan 2017, 10:35 AM,
#20
RE: Possible Greater Scaup: Page Springs 1/7/17
Just skimmed through this thread real quick and I agree that Gary's original bird is a Lesser and that Sam's bird is a clean-cut adult female Greater.
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