There are a number of reasons why I decided to take on this project. My first reason has to do with my interest in birds. This began shortly after moving to Victoria ten and a half years ago. With our house backing onto a wooded area, the chirping of birds is a familiar sound all year long. I often glance out the window to see birds of all forms in the yard throughout the day. Frequently I will pull out the Birds of Victoria or Birds of North America reference guides we have on hand. Unfortunately, the drawings in the first aren’t overly helpful for identification and the number of entries in the second is overwhelming. My second reason has to do with a photography course I took a number of years ago. Since that time I have been trying to think of a practical reason to buy a new camera. Taking pictures of birds requires a powerful zoom lens which my previous point-and-shoot camera could not accommodate. Perfect! My final reason was my desire to take on a new project to welcome in 2011. Hence, bird of the day was born.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Greater Scaup

Aythya marilla  

Medium-sized diving duck
Rounded head; highest point
     towards front of head
Bluish-gray bill with black tip
Yellow eyes
  • Black head
  • Black neck and chest
  • White back with thin, black wavy lines
  • White sides and belly
  • Black rump and undertail
  • Dark brown head and neck
  • White patch at base of bill                                      Listen to its call.
  • Dark brown back with white flecks    
  • Buff brown breast
  • Brown sides, flanks and tail                                     
  • Whitish belly  


After last weekend's birding success, I was a little discouraged with my lack of it during the week. The weather simply refused to cooperate with me. As soon as I stepped out the door with my camera, it would start raining. After numerous failures to locate any new birds in my usual haunts, I headed out to Esquimalt Lagoon yesterday. A fair number of these birds were hanging out among the swans, gulls and other ducks in that area.

I concluded they were Greater Scaup for a number of reasons. The heads of these ducks were rounded compared to the peaked heads of the Lesser Scaup I saw last month. The bills looked larger, as did the ducks themselves. The sides of the males looked whiter than those of the Lesser variety. And finally, at this time of year in our area, Greater Scaup are usually found in salt water and Lesser are more often found in fresh.

Learn more about the Greater Scaup.

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