Surf Scoter

Melanitta perspicillatta
Surf scoter females are dark with lighter patches on the head/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

The Surf scoter is a common migrant in the spring and fall and can be seen in areas adjacent to the Refuge. It is most numerous in winter in our area. When feeding it dives for crustaceans and mollusks.  The Surf scoter is mainly black in color except for two white patches on the head, one on the front and one on the forehead. The head’s color pattern gives it the name “skunk-headed coot”. Female Surf scoters are brown with pale head patches. As the name, Surf scoter suggests, they are sea ducks and forage in the breaking water by diving through the crests of the waves.

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Facts About Surf Scoter

Male has orange, black and white bill

Known as the “Skunk-headed Coot”

Bill is as long as its head