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 Greater Scaup

Status in Michigan
Fairly Common Transient

Early Spring Date

Late Fall Date
Note: Early and Late Dates are being researched.
Image Credits
Count totals in the NMB Databases for Greater Scaup.

Use the links below to view the Greater Scaup reports in the respective databases.
If there are zero sightings for a particular season, that database will return no results.

Active Database - Spring 2005
View Greater Scaup sightings.
Greater Scaup Archives Reports
Fall 2003 83
Spring 2003 206
Winter 02-03 832
Fall 2002 1016
Summer 2002 4
Spring 2002 16884
Winter 01-02 151
Fall 2001 62
Summer 2001 0
Spring 2001 29
Winter 00-01 2
Fall 2000 24
Summer 2000 0
Spring 2000 407
Winter 00-99 373
Fall 1999 233
Spring/Summer 1999 7

NMB Database
Seasonal Percentage Graph
For: Greater Scaup

Whitefish Point Bird Observatory
Active Database - Fall 2003
View Fall 2003 sightings.
Whitefish Point Bird Observatory Official Seasonal Count Summaries for the Greater Scaup
Fall 1999-Spring 2002
Greater Scaup
Note: Some species will not be present in the WPBO archives and will return no records.

Search "The Birds of Michigan" text.

Home - Foreword - Preface - Introduction - Hypothetical List - Literature Cited

Historical Text

Aythya marila nearctica Stejneger and Ayttiya affinis (Eyton)
Scaup Ducks

The 2 scaups are so similar that even some specimens are difficult of determination, and the 2 species are very rarely distinguishable in the field. Sight records are, therefore, here combined in a general account of the 2 species, and the separate accounts are based almost entirely on specimens. The Greater Scaup is possibly more common in Michigan than present records suggest.

These ducks are probably the most abundant transient ducks in Michigan. Flocks of dozens, hundreds, and even thousands occur in suitable places everywhere inland as well as along the Great Lakes.

SPRING.-The main flight is usually recorded from late March through early May.

Lower Peninsula.-For the Toledo-Erie marsh area, L. W. Campbell (1940: 48, 200) gave 8000 as the average maximum number of scaups seen in a day in spring; on April 8, 1934, he recorded 20,000. The main flight occurs there on the average between March 9 (corrected from "April 9," page 200) and May 17. Swales reported scaups in the Detroit region as early as March 2 (1907), but found them in their greatest abundance there from late April through early May. Most of the dates given for first arrivals in the Ann Arbor area by N. A. Wood and Tinker (1934: 11) fall between March 7 and March 30. Around Battle Creek (1931-39) Walkinshaw has recorded first arrivals between March 24 and April 13; Pirnie reports the main flight there in March and April. F. W. Rapp (1931: 4) has found scaups abundant in spring at Vicksburg, Kalamazoo County; his earliest spring record is March 15 (1928).

Upper Peninsula.-Bryens reports a few migrants yearly at McMillan, Luce County; they have arrived on dates ranging from April 22 to May 8. Christofferson reports scaups somewhat earlier at Munuscong Bay, Chippewa County, and at Blaney Park, Schoolcraft County, the dates for first arrivals at Munuscong Bay ranging from April 9 (1929) to April 29 (1928), and for Blaney, from April 13 (1938) to May 1 (1937 and 1942). In the Huron Mountains, Marquette County, scaups are uncommon; they are recorded there in spring from May 7 to June 5 (S. S. Gregory, Jr., 1929: 173). Scaups were recorded on Keweenaw Point on May 6 in 1931 (N. A. Wood, 1933: 716) and on Isle Royale on May 9 in 1937 (Laurence Dayton).

SUMMER.-Scaups have been reported occasionally in summer in both peninsulas: on the Detroit River, Wayne County (J. Claire Wood, 1905a;130; Barrows, 1912: 94; Swales, notes); at the St. Clair Flats (Collins, 1880a: 62; J. Claire Wood, 1910: 38, footnote); at Wintergreen Lake, Kalamazoo "County (1, on July 10, 1939, and 3 on June 3, 1936, reported by Pirnie); in Newaygo County (Ford, 1928: 497-98); in Mason County (several breeding pairs and a brood reported by Chaney, 1910: 273); at Douglas Lake, Cheboygan County (seen several times, usually in pairs, re- ported by Blanchard and Nelson, MS of 1937); at Mackinaw City, Cheboygan County (Leonard Wing, 1940: 174-75); at Seney, Schoolcraft County- (H. L. Bradley); and on Isle Royale (Peet, 1909: 345; 1909o: 119).

FALL.-The main flight is usually recorded in late October and early November.

Upper Peninsula.-On Isle Royale a flock of scaups was reported by Max M. Peet (1909: 345) on September 1 (1905) and one by A. Murie on October 5 (1929). S. S. Gregory, Jr. (1929: 173), recorded scaups in the Huron Mountain region, Marquette County, from September 30 to October 12, but found them uncommon there. They have been recorded by Christofferson at Munuscong Bay, Chippewa County, from August 31 (1927) to November 6 (1927), and at Blaney Park, Schoolcraft County, from September 9 (1932) to November 22 (1930). Van Tyne (1923: 22) found them common in early September, 1918, on Les Cheneaux Islands, Mackinac County.

Lower Peninsula.-"Walter E. Hastings reported "thousands" of scaups at Norwood, Charlevoix County, on November 21, 2023 (Van Tyne, 1925:614) . F. W. Rapp (1931: 4) found them common at Vicksburg, Kalama- zoo County, from November 1 to 26. Rysgaard (1940: 19) recorded them at the Kellogg Sanctuary, Kalamazoo County, from October 13 to December 5 in 1939, noting maximum numbers on October 19. In the Gull Lake- Battle Creek area Pirnie reports that the fall flight begins in late September or early October, usually reaching its peak about October 20. In the Detroit area, Swales (notes) reported small flocks in late September and early October; scaups were usually common in late October and throughout November. For the Ann Arbor region, A. D. Tinker and N. A. Wood (1916: 124) gave late October and early November as the usual time of departure (latest date recorded: December 3).

WINTER.-Scaups winter regularly, sometimes in large flocks, in the Toledo-Erie marsh area (L. W. Campbell, 1940: 48), but in the Chicago region (which includes Berrien County, Michigan) they winter only un- commonly (Ford, Sanborn, and Coursen, 1934: 29). Elsewhere in southern counties they are irregular and usually uncommon in winter. Pirnie (1935: 177) reported that "Lake St. Clair is one of the few Michigan lakes at which huge flocks of bluebills . . . usually remain well into the winter."

Aythya marila nearctica Stejneger
Greater Scaup Duck (A.O.U. 1998: Greater Scaup)

Transient, common at times on such larger waters as Lake St. Clair, Saginaw Bay, Muskegon Lake, and Houghton Lake. Winter status un- known.

First listed for Michigan by Gibbs (1879: 494): "Fuligula marila." SPRING.-There are 22 spring specimens of certain identification, collected from March 9 to May 1: 6 from Wayne County (chiefly the region around the mouth of the Detroit River), March 9 (1934) to April 19 (1895); 2 from Tawas Bay, Iosco County, April 24, 1934; 14 from Hough-ton Lake, Roscommon County, April 26 (10 in 1928-Van Tyne, 1929:103-4) to May 1 (1930).

FALL.-Specimens examined were collected between October 8 (1929) and November 10 (1910). A number were collected in Alger County in 1930, 1 on October 15, and 5 on October 20 (Pirnie, 1935: 309-10). Four specimens (U.M.M.Z.) are from Drummond Island, Chippewa County, October 20 (1928). Seven (October 18 to November 8) are from Houghton Lake, Roscommon County, where Trautman reported that the main flight began after mid-October and extended to the first or second week in November and that the Greater Scaup was "later by far than the Ring-neck, and apparently slightly later than the Redhead, Canvasback and Lesser Scaup." Other specimens are from: Prescott, Ogemaw County, October 15,1930; Lin- wood, Bay County, October 8, 2023 (Pirnie, 1935: 309) ; Charity Island, Huron County, November 10, 1910; Fish Point, Tuscola County, November 8, 1932; Detroit River, Wayne County, October 20, 1936; St. Clair Flats, St. Clair County, 1 on October 10 and 7 on October 25, 1936. Pirnie has found the species in numbers at Lake St. Clair.

WINTER.-It is generally believed that a few scaups occasionally winter in Michigan, but there are apparently no specimens taken at that season.

Mueseum of Zoology, University of Michigan, No. 75
The Birds of Michigan
By: Norman A. Wood
University of Michigan Press
August 28, 2023

Digitized by: Keith F. Saylor
[email protected]

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