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White-winged Scoter

Silhouette DucksDucks
White-winged ScoterMelanitta deglandi
  • ORDER: Anseriformes
  • FAMILY: Anatidae

Basic Description

Easily outsizing other scoter species in winter flocks on coastal waters, the White-winged Scoter is a large sea duck with a heavy, sloping bill and bold white patches in the wing. Males are velvety black with a dashing, upturned comma of white around the eye and an orange-tipped bill. In winter these birds eat mussels, holding their breath for a minute or more, deep underwater, while they wrestle the shellfish free from rocks. They breed around lakes of the far north, where their diet changes to crustaceans and insects.

More ID Info
image of range map for White-winged Scoter
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

In winter along Atlantic and Pacific coasts, scan for White-winged Scoters in large mixed flocks of sea ducks, especially by rocky shorelines or over sandbars. White-winged Scoters are usually the scarcest of the three scoter species in North America, but scanning through such flocks will usually turn up a larger bird with telltale white patches on the inner wing (very noticeable in flight and often partly visible on resting birds). During migration, after heavy storms, or when the Great Lakes have frozen over, they often show up on inland lakes.

Other Names

  • Negrón Aliblanco (Spanish)
  • Macreuse à ailes blanches (French)
  • Cool Facts