The scaup, which in winter-time at any rate is chiefly a sea-bird, feeding on shell-fish, has rarely occurred in India, and when it does turn up in the white-faced brown immature dress is likely to be confused with the young of some of the other pochards, to which group it belongs, its nearest ally here being the tufted pochard, which is, indeed, called by some writers tufted scaup.
The old drake and duck, however, are easily recognizable close at hand, the former having a deep green-black head, black breast, pencilled-grey back and white flanks ; the latter having a brown head and breast, but also a grey back, and a very distinct white face. The female tufted pochard often shows some white here, but always has a dark back. Like tufted pochard, scaup have yellow eyes and broad bills, but they are considerably bigger, about equalling common red-headed pochards in size. Prom these they can easily be distinguished by the white, which, like tufted and white-eyed pochards, they have on the wings.
The few scaup which have been reported from India have turned, up in widely separated localities, from Kashmir to Lakhimpur, and south to Bombay and Chittagong. In Oudh it would appear to occur fairly frequently, the Rev. J. Gompertz having shot eleven between 1897 and 1904 inclusive, as recorded by Captain Wall, quoted by Mr. E. C. S. Baker, and other records have before been made from the same province.
The scaup is a bird of the high north, but in winter is found as far south as the Mediterranean, South China, and Guatemala, for it inhabits America as well as the Old World. It is not difficult to get near, but is extraordinarily tenacious of life and a most energetic and rapid diver when wounded ; while when at length captured it is not good eating, so that its rarity here is not a matter for much regret.