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© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Jouko Lehmuskallio, M. & W. von Wright: Svenska fåglar (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Common Scoter

Melanitta nigra

  • Name also: Black Scoter (race Americana)
  • Family: Waterfowl – Anatidae
  • Appearance: A smallish diving duck with a small beak. Male totally black, female dark brown with pale cheeks. Relatively long tail easily visible when swimming.
  • Size: Length 44–54 cm, wingspan 70–84 cm, weight 560–950 g.
  • Nest: In a hollow beneath a bush or under branches, near shores. Lined with down.
  • Breeding: 7–10 eggs laid in May, incubated by female for 30–31 days. Ducklings leave nest soon after hatching and start to find food for themselves very soon, but still remain as a brood with their mother. They learn to fly within 6–7 weeks.
  • Distribution: Breeds by nutrient-poor lakes in Northern Finland. Most numerous in Northern Finnish Lapland. Finnish breeding population estimated at 1,000–2,000 pairs.
  • Migration: Migrates by day in autumn, flying south from July to October, returning April–May. Common Scoters nesting elsewhere in the Arctic migrate over the Gulf of Finland on May evenings or nights in large numbers. Resting flocks contain very many birds in close proximity. Winters in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea Proper, with small numbers staying in Finnish waters in the Archipelago Sea.
  • Diet: Invertebrates, also some aquatic plants and even berries.
  • Calls: Male has a soft whistling call “hi-yu”, which may be heard from flocks migrating overhead on spring nights.

Male Common Scoters’ plumage is totally black. Females are dark brown, with slightly paler colouring on their underparts and pale markings on their cheeks and the sides of their neck. Immature males have whitish bellies. Common Scoters’ legs are brownish black (males) or greenish brown (females), and their irises are brown. Males’ bills are black, with an orange patch in front of a black knob on the upper mandible. Females have greenish black bills with yellow markings around their nostrils.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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