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Greater Scaup


42-51 centimeters; 72-84 centimeters wingspan

color (adults):

male: dark head with a green gloss, black breast, gray back, black tail, white belly, blue bill, yellow eyes
female: brown, with white band around blue bill, yellow eyes


molluscs, particularly mussels and zebra mussels, aquatic plants

Dutch status:

mainly winter guest, sometimes seen in summer but doesn't nest here


by lakes and swamps on tundra


maturity: 2 years; 8-11 eggs

life span:

unknown (maximum known age: 14 years)

  • Dut: Toppereend
  • Eng: Greater Scaup, bluebill
  • Fren: Fuligule milouinan
  • Ger: Bergente
  • Dan: Bjergand
  • Nor: Bergand
  • Frisian: Jolling
  • Ital: Moretta grigia
  • Lat: Aythya marila

Greater Scaup

Greater scaups are small diving ducks, also known as bluebills. They look a lot like tufted ducks, but don't have a tuft and their back is gray instead of black. During the winter, they are found in both salt and fresh waters, such as the Wadden Sea and the IJsselmeer. Chances are good that you find them swimming in large groups. Unless the IJsselmeer freezes, they all move to the Wadden Sea.

  • Distribution and habitat
    Ducks in the IJsselmeer, foto fitis, sytske dijksen

    Greater scaups nest near the coast and along river mouths on Iceland and in Scandinavia and Northern Russia. After nesting season, the bird migrates to the south. The Wadden Sea, the Voordelta and the IJsselmeer are important molting and winter areas for the greater scaup. The IJsselmeer is important in March and April migrations to the north. Approximately 45% of the Northwest European population overwinters in the IJsselmeer.

  • Protection
    • Monitoring: Network Ecological Monitoring
    • Policy: Target Species List
    • National legislation: Flora and Fauna Regulation
    • European Agreement: Bird Directive
    • International: Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA), Bern Convention, Bonn Convention