One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A Eurasian, North American, and New Zealand diving duck, the male of which has a black head with a green or purple gloss.
Genus Aythya, family Anatidae: three species, in particular the widespread (greater) scaup (A. marila), with a black breast and white sides
- ‘As the tiny sailor joined the rest of its crew, our eyes were drawn to a small raft of scaup.’
- ‘There are mallards galore, the males with their metallic green heads and the females a dowdy brown, and busy little black scaups, bobbing like bath toys.’
- ‘Two ducks common in the winter marsh - the canvasback and greater scaup - are now up in the Yukon and the Seward Peninsula.’
- ‘The lesser scaup is a lovely duck indeed, one that, on its own merits, should always be a pleasure to spy on a lake or stretch of sea coast.’
- ‘Such delays in nest initiation by scaup are especially alarming, given that scaup are migrating through North Dakota earlier than they did historically.’
Late 17th century: Scots variant of Scots and northern English scalp ‘mussel-bed’, a feeding ground of the duck.
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