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Monday, February 5, 2007

Scaup Ducks Invade Lake Pontchartrain

Scaup Duck Scaup - Aythya affinis

duck dateline: Monday, February 5, 2007 at 5:15 pm.

There were approximately 10,000 Lesser Scaup ducks (Aythya affinis) observed on Lake Pontchartrain this afternoon. They were dispersed over an eight mile section just east and paralleling the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. There were multitudes of duck dots in circular duck groupings, a splendid waterfowl sight.

We initially mis-identified these Lesser Scaup ducks as Bufflehead ducks (Bucephala albeola). Our initial identification was corrected by some friends and local duck hunters from Mandeville, Louisiana.

In southern Louisiana, Scaup were declared as a fish by the Catholic Church in earlier times. During LeCareme (lent), Catholics could not eat meat; they could only eat fish. The poor cajun people were of Catholic faith and only had Scaup ducks to eat during lent, so the local Catholic Bishop decreed that Scaup were fish and thus they could be eaten during lent. The logic behind the thought of ducks being fish was due to the fact that ducks, like fish, lived around water; thus duck qualified as c'etait pas de la viande (that was not of meat).

Bufflehead Duck
posted at 6:48 PM