Black ScoterMelanitta americana
- ORDER: Anseriformes
- FAMILY: Anatidae
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
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.
- Negrón Americano (Spanish)
- Macreuse à bec jaune (French)
- Cool Facts
- Until recently, the Common Scoter of Eurasia and Black Scoter of North America (and northeastern Russia) were thought to be the same species. Bill differences between male Common and Black Scoters have been known for centuries, but it took a 2009 study of differences in courtship calls to clinch the case for recognizing them both as full species.
- The Black Scoter occasionally does a display while swimming, flapping its wings with its body held up out of the water. Unlike other scoters, it almost always ends this display with a strong downward thrust of the head.
- The oldest recorded Black Scoter was a male, at least 10 years, 6 months old.