Common Scoter Duck
The Common Scoter Duck is characterized by its bulky shape and large bill. The male is all black with a bulbous bill which shows some yellow coloration around the nostrils. The female is a brown bird with pale cheeks, very similar to female black scoter. This species can be distinguished from other scoters, apart from black scoter, by the lack of white anywhere on the drake and the more extensive pale areas on the female.
Male – The male Common Scoter Duck has an overall glossy black plumage, a distinctive greyish-black beak which is swollen at the base, with orange-yellow patch above, and black tip, a pointed black tail, and the legs and feet are greyish-black.
Female – The female Common Scoter Duck has a sooty brown plumage with pale cheeks extending down the upper neck, and a greyish-black beak which is not swollen at the base or yellow like the male.
Size: – Typical Adult is 18-20 inches.
Food: – Mainly molluscs and crustaceans, mussels, small fish, fish eggs, aquatic insects, larvae also some algae and pond weed roots.
Habitat: – Freshwater lakes, rivers, tundra, and woodland, wintering along the coast. Breeds in Iceland, northern UK, northern Europe, and northern Asia. Winters from UK and European coasts down to the west coast of Africa, Mediterranean, Baltic and Black seas, China, and Japan.
Breeding Season: – Late May to June.
Eggs: – 6 to 8 (pale-creamy or buff color).
Notes: – The Common Scoter Duck is a large sea duck which form large flocks over coastal waters during the winter. Numbers have rapidly declined in the UK probably due to oil spills, and predators such as the mink. The American Black Scoter is sometimes considered to be a sub-species of the Common Scoter.
The different types of wild ducks can be grouped into puddle, aka “dabbling” and diving ducks. The dabblers mostly feed in smaller bodies of shallow water or along shorelines, where they are able to tip their bodies forward to reach their food on the bottom. There are divers who feed in deeper water where they dive and pursue their quarry. Some of these birds, the Harlequin Duck for example, actually dives to the bottom of fast-flowing waters and feeds on life forms attached to rocks.