Surf Scoter Life History


Habitat OceansBreeds on shallow lakes in boreal forest and tundra. Winters in shallow marine coastal waters, usually over pebble and sand bottom.Back to top


Food Aquatic invertebratesFreshwater invertebrates, especially mollusks.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Ground

Nest Description

Hollow in ground near water, lined with vegetative debris and down.

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size:6-9 eggs
Egg Description:Creamy white.
Condition at Hatching:Downy and eyes open. Leave nest soon after they dry. Feed themselves immediately.
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Behavior Surface DiveDives for prey on or near bottom.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernThere is little information on Surf Scoter population trends. The species is common, but populations may be declining. Surf Scoter is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List.Back to top


Anderson, Eric M., Rian D. Dickson, Erika K. Lok, Eric C. Palm, Jean-Pierre L. Savard, Daniel Bordage and Austin Reed. 2015. Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Bellrose, F. C. 1976a. Ducks, geese and swans of North America. 2 ed. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books.

Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2015.2. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2015.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. 2014. The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

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