Join for FREE
It only takes a minute!
Magnifying the passion for nature. Zeiss Victory Harpia 95. New!

Welcome to BirdForum.
BirdForum is the net's largest birding community, dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE! You are most welcome to register for an account, which allows you to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Personal tools
Main Categories

White-winged Scoter

From Opus

Male Velvet Scoter M. f. fusca Photo by the late Jim WoodMusselburgh, Scotland, February 2010.
Male Velvet Scoter M. f. fusca
Photo by the late Jim Wood
Musselburgh, Scotland, February 2010.
Melanitta fusca

Includes Velvet Scoter


[edit] Identification

Male White-winged Scoter M. f. deglandi Photo by digitalbirderWhite Rock, British Columbia, Canada, February 2005
Male White-winged Scoter M. f. deglandi
Photo by digitalbirder
White Rock, British Columbia, Canada, February 2005

Length 51-58cm (20-22Âľ 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] Flight

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

[edit] Distribution

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

Breeds in northern areas around the globe, such as Scandinavia (especially Sweden and Norway), northern Asia, and northern North America.

Migrates in winter to areas that have coastal open water, for example in Europe will be found from Norway to Spain and east to the Caspian Sea.

[edit] Taxonomy

[edit] Subspecies

Three subspecies are currently recognised[1], split into two species by several authorities[2][3]:

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

M. f. deglandi has in the past and is increasingly again recognised as a full species (for example by the British BOURC[3]), which would keep the name of White-winged Scoter; subspecies M. f. fusca being Velvet Scoter. The subspecies M. f. stejnegeri is a subspecies of M. deglandi if IOC[2] or BOURC[3] is followed, but is also considered a full species, M. stejnegeri by BirdLife[4].

All three subspecies are prone to occasional vagrancy, with a scattering of records of birds in the normal ranges of the other subspecies.

[edit] Notes on distinguishing males of the subspecies

Velvet Scoter with wing part-open showing the white secondariesPhoto by Digiscoper321Western Sweden, April 2015
Velvet Scoter with wing part-open showing the white secondaries
Photo by Digiscoper321
Western Sweden, April 2015
  • M. f. 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. f. 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. f. 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. f. fusca has a slightly concave forehead with no basal swelling on the bill, M. f. stejnegeri a slightly swollen bill base, and M. f. deglandi a marginally more swollen bill base.

[edit] Habitat

Female Velvet Scoter Photo by GwynnAustria, February 2006
Female Velvet Scoter
Photo by Gwynn
Austria, February 2006

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

M. f. fusca often mixes with with Common Eider, and sometimes with Common Scoter.

[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

Male Velvet Scoter in flightPhoto by the late Jim WoodEast Lothian, Scotland, UK, January 2008
Male Velvet Scoter in flight
Photo by the late Jim Wood
East Lothian, Scotland, UK, January 2008

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

[edit] Vocalisation

Listen in an external program

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. 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


Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

Help support BirdForum

Page generated in 0.25963712 seconds with 6 queries
All times are GMT. The time now is 04:57.