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White-winged Scoter

From Opus

Male M. f. deglandi Photo © by digitalbirderWhite Rock, British Columbia, Canada, February 2005
Male M. f. deglandi
Photo © by digitalbirder
White Rock, British Columbia, Canada, February 2005
Melanitta deglandi


[edit] Identification

Male Siberian Scoter M. f. stejnegeriPhoto © by DaninJapanMisawa port, Aomori-Ken, Japan, March 2006
Male Siberian Scoter M. f. stejnegeri
Photo © by DaninJapan
Misawa port, Aomori-Ken, Japan, March 2006

Length 51-58cm (20-22¾ in), weight 1200-1800 g

  • Black overall plumage
  • White 'tick' just below and behind the eye
  • Long yellow bill
  • Thick neck
  • Pointed tail


  • Dusky brown upperparts
  • Scaly-looking brownish-grey underparts
  • Two pale spots in the head, one on the auriculars, one between eye and bill

Juvenile a paler version of female

[edit] Notes on distinguishing males of White-winged and Velvet Scoter

  • M. fusca: the least knob on the bill, and the least white around and behind the eye; almost no white above the eye. The coloured section of the bill is yellow and relatively long, and the distance from the base of that to the eye is short, producing the impression that the eye is positioned relatively far forward on the head. The crown looks highest above the eye.
  • M. d. deglandi: clear knob at the base of the bill, with the yellow-orange part relatively short, so that the eye looks set further back on head than M. f. fusca. The white around the eye is shaped as a checkmark, pointed up at the rear end. The coloured part of the bill is orange with the top parts looking yellow. The crown is highest in front of the eye. When seen well, flanks will be brown in contrast to black back and breast.
  • M. d stejnegeri: Head shape closer to Common Eider in shape, with a long, sloping forehead. White around eye similar to or longer than M. f. deglandi. It has a clear knob - almost like a small Rhinoceros horn - on the bill, further forward than M. f. deglandi, and the coloured parts are mostly red with yellow "lipstick" below. Flanks are black

Females are much harder to distinguish, only determinable at the closest range; M. fusca has a slightly concave forehead with no basal swelling on the bill, M. d stejnegeri a slightly swollen bill base, and M. d. deglandi a marginally more swollen bill base.

[edit] Flight

In flight, it shows a white patch on the rear of the wing.

[edit] Distribution

Breeds in northeast Asia and northern North America.
Winters in coastal east Asia to Japan and China and coastal southern USA.

[edit] Taxonomy

Formerly considered conspecific with Velvet Scoter from Northern Eurasia.

[edit] Subspecies

Two subspecies are currently recognised[1]:

  • M. d. deglandi (White-winged Scoter) occurs in North America and includes M. f. dixoni which is no longer recognised.
  • M. d. stejnegeri (Siberian Scoter) is found in Eastern Asia. This form is also sometimes proposed for recognition as a full species[4].

[edit] Habitat

Breeds around fresh water bodies near boreal forests and arctic tundra; sometimes far from the coast.

Outside of the breeding season, they are to be found in coastal waters, often near shellfish beds

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Action

Slower and more powerful than Common Scoter.

[edit] Diet

Their diet includes shellfish, crabs, sea urchins, fish, insect larvae and plants.

[edit] Breeding

They build a lined nest on the ground near lakes or rivers, in woodland or tundra. The clutch consists of 7-9 eggs.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from
  2. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2015. IOC World Bird Names (version 5.2). Available at
  3. DUDLEY et al. 2006. The British List: A Checklist of Birds of Britain (7th edition). Ibis 148:526–563 with online updates to 2009
  4. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive: Siberian Scoter (retrieved May 2015)
  5. R Strack 2010. Fløjlsænder. Fugle i Felten 1: 6-7, January 2010 (in Danish) .
  7. Collins Bird Guide ISBN 0 00 219728
  8. Collins Field Guide 5th Edition ISBN 0 00 219900 9

[edit] External Links


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