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This study examined the incubation behaviour of Greater Scaup Aythya marila on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska. The goals of the study were to describe the incubation behaviour of Greater Scaup in terms of incubation constancy, recess frequency and recess length. The use of endogenous reserves by Greater Scaup was examined by determining weight loss over the incubation period. Further, intraspecific variation in incubation constancy was considered in terms of hypotheses regarding timing of reproduction. Constancy (% time on nest) averaged 59% during egg laying and increased to 83% during incubation. Patterns of daily incubation constancy varied among females, with no overall trend. Females took an average of 4.3 recesses per day, with an average length of 57 minutes. Body mass declined by 6.4 g day-1 and females initiating nests later tended to be lighter. These data suggest that while Greater Scaup utilise some stored reserves during incubation, they probably meet most of their energetic demands by foraging during incubation recesses. These data are not consistent with the hypothesis that females are initiating nests before adequate forage is available in the spring to meet the demands of egg production and maintenance. Thus, the observed delay in the onset of nesting by Greater Scaup, relative to other sympatric nesting species, does not appear to be related to inadequate forage to meet nutritional requirements.
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Incubation behaviour of Greater Scaup Aythya marila on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska