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Black Scoter - Melanitta americana

Black Scoter


 Kingdom: Animalia
 Phylum: Chordata
 Class: Aves
 Order: Anseriformes
 Family: Anatidae
 Genus: Melanitta
ICUN Redlist - World Status: Least ConcernNear Threatened


Black ScoterThe black scoter is a large sea duck around 17-19 inches in length. The male is black with a bright yellow knob on the base of his black bill. The female is grayish-brown with light white bars on her sides. She has a black bill and grayish-white patches on her cheeks. Both the male and the female have silvery wing linings that can be seen when they are in flight. The black scoter was once known as the common scoter (Melanitta nigra), but the common scoter was recently split into two species - the common scoter and the black scoter. The common scoter (Melanitta nigra) is found in Eurasia.


black scoterThe black scoter breeds on freshwater tundra ponds in western Alaska and Labrador and Newfoundland in Canada. It winters on bays along the Pacific Coast, the Atlantic Coast, the Gulf Coast, and the Great Lakes.


The black scoter breeds in lakes and ponds in boreal forests It winters in the ocean and in saltwater bays.


The black scoter is a medium-sized diving duck. When it is at sea, it dives for crustaceans, mollusks, small fish, and marine worms. When it is in its breeding range, it eats aquatic insects, mollusks, crustaceans, and aquatic insects and plants.

Life Cycle

The female black scoter lays 5-10 eggs in a nest made in a hollow in tundra grass. The nest is lined with grass and down and made near the water. The chicks hatch in about 27-31 days. They leave the nest shortly after hatching and can feed themselves immediately. They stay with their mother for about three weeks.


Black scoters are the most vocal of all the scoter species. The male black scoter makes a musical two note coor-loo whistling call.

Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Ian Cruickshank cc logo