Black Scoter

Silhouette DucksDucks
Black ScoterMelanitta americana
  • ORDER: Anseriformes
  • FAMILY: Anatidae

Basic Description

A stark velvety black seaduck with a bright pumpkin-orange knob at the base of its bill, the male Black Scoter is distinctive at almost any distance. Females are mostly brown with a distinctive face pattern, a blackish cap contrasting with a pale cheek. They forage for marsh insects in summer and dive for mussels in winter. This is one of the most vocal of waterfowl, and flocks can often be located by the males’ incessant crooning, a wistful, descending whistle evocative of the lonesome seacoasts they occupy during winter.

More ID Info
image of range map for Black ScoterRange map provided by Birds of the WorldExplore Maps

Find This Bird

Black Scoters form large winter flocks along both Atlantic and Pacific coastlines, though they are scarcer south of the Carolinas and northern California. During late autumn, tens of thousands may migrate southward past prominent headlands or peninsulas. Inland, Black Scoters turn up briefly on lakes or reservoirs, especially when bad weather drives them out of the sky. As with most waterfowl, a spotting scope is useful to get good views.

Other Names

  • Negrón Americano (Spanish)
  • Macreuse à bec jaune (French)
  • Cool Facts