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Black Scoter


IUCN Conservation Status: Near Threatened

A coastal duck that breeds in the subarctic, the Black Scoter is not well studied in North America. Only a few nests have ever been found.

Birds of North America Online
Yard Map Birds Eye View


Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Stocky diving duck.
  • Black.
  • No white in wings.
  • Male all black with swollen yellow or orange knob at base of bill.
  • Female blackish with large whitish face patch.

Male Description

Black with metallic gloss. Side and flank feathers long and pointed. Eyelids yellow. Swollen orange-yellow knob on base of upper bill, divided by black along middle of upper surface.

Female Description

Sooty brownish. Dark cap contrasting sharply with pale grayish brown feathers on rest of head. Sides and flanks paler with indistinct barring. Bill not swollen or only slightly, may have hint of yellow.

Immature Description

Similar to adult female but with white belly.

Range Map Help

Black Scoter Range Map
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Field MarksHelp

Similar Species

  • Female Surf Scoter has a similar capped look with whitish cheeks, but does not have completely clean cheeks, and has a more stepped forehead. Surf Scoter male has orange on its bill, but generally shows some white there and white patches on the head.
  • Female White-winged Scoter has whitish patches on a dark face, a sloped profile, and large white wing patches.
  • Winter Ruddy Duck shows white cheeks, but is smaller, paler, and has a light chest.