Lesser Scaup

1/320s at f5.6, ISO:800 Canon EOS-1D X w/800mm

The Lesser Scaup is a small North American diving duck that migrates south as far as Central America in winter. Their breeding habitat is inland lakes and marsh ponds in tundra from Alaska through western Canada to western Montana.. Lesser Scaup forage mainly by sifting through the bottom mud, usually after diving and swimming underwater, occasionally by dabbling without diving. They mainly eat mollusks such as mussels and clams, as well as seeds and other parts of aquatic plants like sedges and bulrushes. They nest in a sheltered location on the ground near water, usually among thick vegetation such as sedges and bulrushes, sometimes in small loose groups and not rarely next to colonies of gulls or terns; several females may deposit eggs in a single nest. The drakes court the hens in the winter quarters; pairs form shortly before and during the spring migration. When nesting starts, the males aggregate while they molts into eclipse plumage, leaving the task of incubation and raising the young to the females alone. The nest is a shallow depression scraped in the ground and lined with plants and some down feathers. Breeding begins in May, but most birds nest only in June, later than usual for North American waterfowl. The clutch numbers about 9 to 11 eggs on average. Incubation is by the female only and lasts around 3 weeks. The young fledge some 45 to 50 days after hatching and soon thereafter the birds migrate to winter quarters already. Lesser Scaup become sexually mature in their first or second summer. The oldest known individual reached an age of over 18 years.
Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch, Gilbert, AZ