A Black Scoter is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Black Scoters. We have also put together a list of fun Black Scoter t-shirts, Black Scoter bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird-watching items.
About Black Scoters
A coastal duck that breeds in the Subarctic, the Black Scoter is not well-known as only a few nests have ever been found. The Black Scoter remains one of North America’s least-known waterfowl and is mainly found in remote Northern Quebec and Alaska.
Description and Identification
Black Scoters are medium or large-sized birds with a round head, short tail, and a broad beak. They
resemble black or very dark gray sea ducks. Even though they are not very common, they were
initially called Common Scoter. The male adults are jet black in color with a prominent yellow knob
on their bill. The females as well as juveniles, on the other hand, are a slightly pale black, or dark
gray in color, and have even lighter-colored patches on their cheeks. The Bright yellow knobs
found on the males are absent on these. Thus making them easy to tell apart.
Black Scoter Color Pattern
Adult male Black Scoters are easily identified by a swollen orange-yellow knob on the bill and by their entirely dark black feathers. Adult females by their dark brown feathers with a contrasting dark cap and light cheeks
Black Scoter Size
The Black Scoter is a large sea duck approximately between 17 to 19 inches.
Other measurements of these birds include:
- Weight 950g (2.09lb) although the adult male could weigh up to 1100g (2.4 lb)
- Wingspan 710mm (28 in)
- Tail 83-97mm (3.3-3.8 in)
Black Scoter Behavior
- Often found in small flocks sometimes with other scoter species.
- Both adult and female species use soft whistling as their calls.
- Scoters spend the non-breeding part of the year in large flocks on the ocean. Black Scoters forage by diving and swimming underwater, propelled by their feet. They usually feed in areas of open water, avoiding dense submerging or emergent vegetation. They swallow their prey underwater unless it’s large or bulky.
Black Scoter Food
They tend to dive into the water body that they reside near, swim underwater, using their feet.
While swimming or catching their prey, their wings may be folded or partly open. As black scoters
usually inhabit places near waterbeds, their food habits complement it as well. They often feed on
mollusks, and insects, crustaceans, worms, etc. Summer allows them to find a variety of freshwater
insects. Black Scoters also enjoy fish eggs during the breeding season of fish. Some of the other life
that they feed on includes small fish, plant material, mussels, a variety of bivalves, and echinoderms.
Aquatic insects in summer and mollusks in winter typify the species’ diet.
Black Scoter Habitat
The natural Habitat of Black Scoter birds is Seacoasts, and in the summer you can find them in the
coastal tundra region. Their breeding habitat comprises the wet tundra region, or higher altitudes,
usually on mountain slopes without any trees, even lake openings in the Northern forests. In the
summers, however, you will find them along open coastlines beside shallow waters or bays.
They inhabit seacoasts in summer and coastal tundra in the winter. Breeding habitat includes low-lying wet tundra and higher slopes in treeless terrain, also openings around lakes in the northern forest. In winter mostly on bays and along exposed coastlines, usually over shallow water within a mile of shore. Migrants stop on Great Lakes and other freshwaters, some remaining for winter.
Range and Migration
In the west, the Black Scoters can be found around the coastal waters off Washington, they are
relatively widespread in that region but scarce from mid-November to mid-May. A fair number of
them can be spotted in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound. Penn Cove on Whidbey Island
and Olympia Harbour is where they are seen regularly. They tend to migrate in early spring and late
fall. While flying along with the coats, they usually fly low, whereas overland they take long
continuous flights, with minimum rest and at a higher altitude. They usually travel in large winter
flocks and can be spotted along the Pacific as well as Atlantic coastlines due to their large numbers
even though they are much scarier in the Southern and Northern parts of Carolina.
Black Scoter 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 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 average lifespan is 16.8 years.
Black Scoter Nesting
Female Black Scoters are the ones that build the nest. Their nest usually resembles a depression (not
too deep) and is lined with soft plant material for padding. It is usually built on the ground near a
water body. They are clever enough to find a hammock or a ridge to allow them to use vegetation
such as grasses or shrubs to conceal the nest. Several males compete to court one female, during
late fall, right after the incubation, the male bird departs, leaving the female to tend to the juveniles.
The females usually lay 8-9 eggs at once.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Black Scoters
The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Black Scoters are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
Black Scoter T-shirts
If you love the Black Scoter you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Black Scoter Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron-on patches. Our bird-watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen and identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Black Scoter is a great iron-on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Black Scoter Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Black Scoter. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders for Black Scoter
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Black Scoter
There are many types of birdhouses. Building a birdhouse is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 birdhouses have become our favorites. Getting a birdhouse for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these birdhouses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.