The Black Scoter is one of North America’s least known waterfowl, owing partly to its scattered breeding distribution in remote northern Quebec and Alaska. Major wintering areas include the coastal waters of Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington State in the west and those of Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island in the east.
When we see an unexpected bird on the creek we often wonder why they are there. The Black Scoters we have seen seem to be healthy, but we haven’t seen them flying. It is possible that one of the pair may be injured and they have chosen the serene waters of Ayers Creek to hang out until they recover. We will be keeping an eye on them and suspect they will migrate along with the other Scoters during the fall migration
Some fun facts from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:
- The Black Scoter occasionally does a “Wing-flap” display while swimming, flapping its wings with its body held up out of the water. Unlike other scoters, it almost always punctuates a Wing-flap with a characteristic downward thrust of head, as if its neck were momentarily broken. Surf and White-winged scoters keep their heads and bills pointing more or less above the horizontal throughout a Wing-flap.
- The Black Scoter is among the most vocal of waterfowl. Groups of Black Scoters often can be located by the constant mellow, plaintive whistling sound of the males.
- The oldest recorded Black Scoter was a male, at least 10 years, 6 months old.