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When Dave Easterla reviewed Missouri CBCs years ago, Greater Scaup was a 
write-up bird, and he would throw the species off the count unless the 
counter saw the wing-stripe and included it in his write-up. (I believe he 
would also accept a description of a sitting bird if she were a female with 
the light ear patch that is present on some female Greater Scaup [a mark 
which actually may not be reliable]). At that time,  the field guides were 
depicting and mentioning a green head gloss for Greaters and a purple head 
gloss for Lessers, and Dave correctly regarded that as an unreliable mark. 
He may also have believed (perhaps correctly) that head shape was too 
subjective a mark for many CBC counters.

I believe that birding communities learn collective lessons. (Would Carl 
Jung call it the "collective conscious?") Our Missouri birding community 
appears to have learned more about scaup ID than it knew 20 years ago. As a 
result, Missouri birders have found so many Greater Scaup that the species 
is no longer rare in central and west central Missouri.

Bob Fisher
Independence, Missouri
[log in to unmask] 

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