New Zealand Scaup (Aythya novaeseelandiae)

New Zealand Scaup

[order] ANSERIFORMES | [family] Anatidae | [latin] Aythya novaeseelandiae | [authority] Gmelin, 1789 | [UK] New Zealand Scaup | [FR] Fuligule de Nouvelle-Zelande | [DE] Maoriente | [ES] Porron Maori | [NL] Nieuwzeelandse Toppereend


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Aythya novaeseelandiae AU New Zealand


Aythya is a genus of diving ducks. It has twelve described species. Aythya shihuibas was described from the Late Miocene of China. An undescribed prehistoric species is known only from Early Pleistocene fossil remains found at Dursunlu, Turkey; it might however be referrable to a paleosubspecies of an extant species considering its age. The Miocene “Aythya” arvernensis is now placed in Mionetta, while “Aythya” chauvirae seems to contain the remains of 2 species, at least one of which does not seem to be a diving duck.

Physical charateristics

They are quite distinctive ducks, the males being black with a purplish, greenish sheen on the head and the rest of the body a brownish black with a green gloss. The eye is distinctly yellow. The female can be easily distinguished with her brown eye and brownish body. In breeding plumage, the scaup has a small white band on the forehead above the beak.

Listen to the sound of New Zealand Scaup

[audio: Zealand Scaup.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 55 cm wingspan max.: 65 cm
size min.: 40 cm size max.: 46 cm
incubation min.: 27 days incubation max.: 30 days
fledging min.: 70 days fledging max.: 80 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 4  
      eggs max.: 8  


Australasia : New Zealand


Found throughout both North and South islands of New Zealand in deep freshwater lakes and ponds


They nest from October to March. They lay five to eight cream/white eggs in a nest close to water, often under banks or thick cover. The nest is usually lined with grass and down. The eggs are incubated for four weeks by the female. The newly hatched duckling take to diving for food on their first outing.

Feeding habits

They are a diving duck and may stay down for twenty to thirty seconds and go down three metres to look for aquatic plants, small fish, water snails, mussels and insects

Video New Zealand Scaup


copyright: Nick Talbot


This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be small, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
New Zealand Scaup status Least Concern


Unlike other members of this genus this scaup is not migratory, although it does move to open water from high country lakes if they become frozen in winter

Distribution map

New Zealand Scaup distribution range map

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