Black Scoter

Melanitta americana




Ducks, Geese and Swans (Anatidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Buff to pink buff

Number of Eggs:

5 - 8

Incubation Days:

27 - 28

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

On ground.

Nest Material:

Coarse grass lined with feathers.





Black Scoter: Medium-sized diving duck, entirely black except for yellow knob at base of bill. Female is dark brown with contrasting pale cheeks, chin and throat, and may exhibit yellow at base of bill. Juvenile is similar to female but is faintly scaled; 1st winter male shows dull yellow bill knob.

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.

Breeding and Nesting

Black Scoter: Five to eight buff to pink buff eggs are laid in a down-lined cup of grass hidden in a rock crevice or clump of grass near water. Incubation ranges from 27 to 28 days and is carried out by the female.

Foraging and Feeding

Black Scoter: Feeds on mollusks, crustaceans, small fish, aquatic plants, and algae; forages by diving from the surface.


Black Scoter: In spring, emits a musical, whistled "cour-loo."

Similar Species

Black Scoter: Surf and White-winged Scoters lack yellow on bill and show white on head and wings, respectively.

The area of the face just below the bill.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X