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Duck,Western Oregon

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26 minutes ago, egosnell2002 said:

Thus, I don't think I really feel confident IDing Scaup from photos anymore.

I agree. As a beginner I thought I was getting the hang of Scaup IDs using the typical guide book tips. Then I realized it is much more complex than I thought.

For this one with the head extended I would personally lean towards Greater but it would be nice to get more expert opinions and reasons (a front profile would be helpful).

Nice to get a duck ID request for a change (there is nothing interesting on the rapidly rising Lake Huron shores at the moment - about to hit record high).

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I agree with Sean C, there's a subtle crest there, and I expect Greater Scaup to have a more blocky-shaped head.  Just a more delicate look to this one.  

But I also agree with RobinHood and Egosnell2002, one photo tells only one side of the story in terms of head shape.  This duck appears to be holding its neck a bit extended and therefore in an unnatural position; maybe it's alarmed about something.  Also, the strands in the bill - it appears to be foraging and that changes things too:  https://cowyebird.blogspot.com/2018/02/greater-scaup-ebird-problem-child.html

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Yes, female Scaup are very difficult. I live on the coast of Northern California where we enjoy both species. While the 'crest' on the Lesser can be subtle, it is still a little 'knot-like" and reminiscent of a tiny version of a Ring-necked Duck's 'crest', but of course VERY small. One thing that is subtle but apparent in this photo is the slight pale spot on the rear part of the cheek. This mark (if that is what it is) is diagnostic on worn female Greater Scaup. SO, if I HAD to put a name on this bird I would call it an adult female Greater Scaup, but would not bet my life on it. The first shot from the side shows what looks like a large nail to the bill, (good for Greater as well). Just a thought. Additionally, I have NO problem with the full round head shape for greater.

Edited by Keith Hansen
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