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Greater Scaup

Posted on Feb 5, 2016

There were so many more ducks pushed out into the open ocean during the past two winters with the icy Great Lakes and nearly every inland body of water being locked up for most of the season in the Northeast. This year species like these Greater Scaup can still be found in more northerly areas with sometimes historic warmth occurring.

Greater Scaup Sleeping-5944

Greater Scaup Swimming-5952

As of yesterday the Great Lakes ice cover was only at 7.2% compared to 2015’s 49.0% and the even more frozen 77.7% in 2014. Our local Lake Erie was essentially entirely ice at this point in the last two winters because it is so shallow, measuring at 94.5% frozen in 2015 and 93.2% in 2014. Right now Lake Erie is just 2.5% ice, making life much easier for those birds who choose not to migrate further south. Any type of migration is perilous, and for many species it is the most dangerous part of their life cycles. Not having to fly so far to potentially unknown areas while also being able to feed and rest in warmer conditions, requiring fewer calories with much less strain on the body, is far safer for birds. I am glad we are all getting a break from historic cold this winter!

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator