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Which Scaup? Seneca Falls NY 3/3/23


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20 hours ago, Avery said:

It is for adult males.

I'm not sure it is quite that straightforward, but interested in other opinions.

Lesser is very reliable for having a small neat nail but the nail (and the bill shape/size) on the Greater can vary quite a lot, not sure if it is an age thing.

So I'm cautious when I see a bird with a relatively small nail, especially a poor view, and no other clear markers. This comes up regularly locally in the winter as Greater is expected but Lesser has to be reviewed. Just google male Greater Scaup images and lots of examples of birds with small nails.

A bird with a large flared nail, no problem.

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2 hours ago, RobinHood said:

I'm not sure it is quite that straightforward, but interested in other opinions.

Lesser is very reliable for having a small neat nail but the nail (and the bill shape/size) on the Greater can vary quite a lot, not sure if it is an age thing.

So I'm cautious when I see a bird with a relatively small nail, especially a poor view, and no other clear markers. This comes up regularly locally in the winter as Greater is expected but Lesser has to be reviewed. Just google male Greater Scaup images and lots of examples of birds with small nails.

A bird with a large flared nail, no problem.

If your Googling Greater Scaup, your likely getting a lot more than just Greater Scaup 😋

 

That aside, Lesser has the thin nail, with at most a slight flare. Greater has a wide, flared nail. I’m he amount of variation is pretty small, especially compared to other ID features like head shape. However, all this nail business goes out the window for me when the bird is not an adult male. There is likely some circumstances where it can be used for transitional birds or certain ages/sexes, but that level of intricacy is beyond me. 
 

my autocorrect is going absolutely haywire. 

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45 minutes ago, Avery said:

If your Googling Greater Scaup, your likely getting a lot more than just Greater Scaup 😋

Fair point, I should have said I looked at various sites including the Macaulay library for adult males only.

I think all I was suggesting was that if you see an adult male Scaup with a small nail it may not be a Lesser, especially if you don't get a really good frontal view.

One of the top rated Greater Scaup photos from Macaulay below.

https://media.ebird.org/catalog?taxonCode=gresca&mediaType=photo&sort=rating_rank_desc

Interesting topic as I'm always looking for additional markers, myself and an experienced birder I know recently concluded that fine/coarse barring is also not reliable. However, several of these somewhat unreliable markers together (head colour, nail size, barring) may be enough to swing it one way or the other.

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