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The Lesser scaup males have a black, effervescent head and a small tuft at the crown, a black breast, a whitish-grey back and wings with darker vermiculations and black outer and greyish-brown inner primaries. The underparts are white with some olive vermiculations on the flanks, and the rectrices and tail coverts are black.
Their breeding habitat is inland lakes and marsh ponds in tundra from Alaska through western Canada to western Montana.