Black Scoter

Melanitta americana

Order

ANSERIFORMES

Family

Ducks, Geese and Swans (Anatidae)

Code 4

BLSC

Code 6

MENNIG

ITIS

ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Vulnerable

The Black Scoter breeds in wetlands on wet tundra in eastern and northwestern Canada, Alaska, and northeastern Russia over 3,670,000 square kilometers. It winters in coastal waters from New Brunswick south to Florida, the Aleutian Islands and the Pacific coast south to the border with Mexico, and in coastal waters of northeastern Asia. The population of the Black Scoter is estimated to range from 530,000 to 830,000 and is believed to be in decline because of oil pollution and decreases in shellfish that the species feeds upon. For this reason, the Black Scoter has been given a conservation rating of Near Threatened.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Black Scoter: Medium diving duck, entirely black except for yellow knob at base of black bill. Legs and feet are black. The male is the only all black duck in North America. Dives for food, primarily eats mollusks. Strong direct flight with rapid wing beats. Flies in straight line and V formation.

 

Range and Habitat

Black Scoter: Breeds in western Alaska, along the Hudson Bay, and Labrador. Spends winters along coasts from Alaska south to California, from Newfoundland south to the Carolinas, along portions of the Gulf coast, and on the Great Lakes. Breeding habitats include ponds in boreal forests; spends winters on oceans and in large saltwater bays.

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Black Scoter SONGS AND CALLS

Black Scoter A1

Plaintive whistles given in flight from a small group of male birds.

Black Scoter I1

Display calls from a group of male birds.

Similar Sounding


Voice Text

Generally silent

INTERESTING FACTS

  • Birds occasionally do a "wing-flap" display while swimming, flapping their wings with the body held up and punctuating this with a downward thrust of head, as if its neck were momentarily broken.
  • Black Scoter are among the most vocal of waterfowl. Groups can often be located by the constant mellow, plaintive whistling sound of the males.
  • It takes off from water more abruptly than most other "diving ducks," a feature which is helpful in field identification.
  • A group of ducks has many collective nouns, including a "brace", "flush", "paddling", "raft", and "team" of ducks.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP NORTH AMERICA

About this North America Map

This map shows how this species is distributed across North America.

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Gary Owen Dick

Artist

Yury Lisyak

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

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Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X