Lesser Scaup

Aythya affinis

 On the picture you can see a swimming Lesser Scaup. IUCN Red List endangerment category: Least concern
  • Family
    Anatidae (Ducks, geese and swans)
  • Weight
    790 – 1.000 g
  • Habitat
    Inland waterways, ponds and lakes


The lesser scaup is a diving duck. Its feet are positioned far behind the body, which makes them appear somewhat clumsy when running, but very agile in the water. Its diet consists mainly of mussels and snails, as well as insects and aquatic plants. Lesser scaups can remain under water to catch their meal for about half a minute.

From courtship to breeding

To get the attention of a female during the courtship, the male lesser scaup shakes his head. This is followed by exaggerated nodding, several bows and ritualized preening. The nest is usually built close to water and lined with down, and well hidden in the surrounding vegetation. The male is not involved in the rearing of the chicks. Often, two or more females join together to form a “kindergarten”.

Lesser scaup chicks try to dive on their first day of life. However, at such a tender age, they are too light to stay under water. But after about 6 weeks they will be able to dive up to 18 meters deep.