Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Little Blue Bill

The little blue bill is another name for the lesser scaup which comes to our waters each spring but not to my river.  This diving duck migrates from Central America to Canada on its biannual travels and has a breeding range from the Northern U.S. all the way to the Bering sea.  Scalp is a Scottiesh term for clams and oysters and that is what this little fellow eats, so some say that is how it got the name lesser Scaup.  Others say it has something to do with their call.  My photos, taken in the fog, my excuse, are poor compared to the beautiful ones you can see on the Internet.  (Click on photos for a larger view.)  Both males and females have that little blue bill with a black mark in the middle.  I took these near the Chesapeake Bay.

They like the reeds and grasses because of the availability of insect larvae.  They eat tender reeds, rices, and small fish as well as little crabs and floating insects.  They have bright yellow eyes as you can see in the photo.

If you look closely at the photo below you can see the little tuft of feathers that keeps the head from being completely round.  The bill in the photo below also shows a greater blue.  From what I have read it is hard to distinguish the greater scaup from the lesser scaup, even when seen side by side.  They hang out together and therefore populations are sometimes counted as one group.  As many as 600,000 have been counted in Alaska.  A combined breeding population of 3.2 plus or minus .2 million was estimated in 2006!  Yet, I do not see them often.

I felt lucky to get close to these as they are very shy most times.

11 comments:

Brian Miller said...

very cool captures...the blue bills with the dot of black are really cool...dont know that i have seen these honestly...

Granny Annie said...

And I feel so lucky that you shared them with me:)

Mage said...

Wonderful. You see things so well that I miss so easily.

Pauline said...

amazing - our ducks are quite plain in comparison. thanks for sharing.

Kat said...

Wow! I'll have to show this to my bird-loving son. He'll be thrilled with the photos and the info! Thanks!

Red said...

Very complete description of these ducks. they are a striking bird to see the first time with the blue beak.

Dave said...

That's a cute little duck Tabor. It sure travels a long way. We don't get them here (NZ). I also liked your beautiful flower photos in your previous blog - Dave

Dave King said...

Delightful, as these posts always are. Thanks.

SueAnn Lommler said...

Oh my!! He/she is fabulous. Love that blue bill.
Hugs
SueAnn

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Gorgeous pictures.. I've never seen them before. Love the blue bills... Thanks for sharing.
Hugs,
Betsy

Shrinky said...

They must have sensed you were a friend (smile). They are quite gorgeous, aren't they?