The Surf Scoter is a large blackish sea duck. Adult males are black with white patches on their heads and large bills boldly patterned with orange, red, white, and black. Their eyes are also white. Females and immature birds are less distinctly marked.
On the Menu
Surf Scoters consume different prey at different times of year depending on their age, habitat, and food availability. They eat mollusks at sea during the winter, and at other times of the year, they eat fish eggs and aquatic insects and other invertebrates. Surf Scoters dive and swim beneath the water to catch their prey.
Home Sweet Home
This duck breeds across parts of Alaska and Canada, and after breeding, most of the population moves to the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts to spend the winter in bays and estuaries. Smaller numbers of birds utilize the Great Lakes and Gulf of Mexico.
How Am I Doing?
Surf Scoter populations are declining, probably due to development and pollution along the coasts of the wintering range. And their northern breeding areas are expected to change dramatically in the face of global climate change.
Help from Audubon
Audubon’s Important Bird Areas program identifies important Surf Scoter habitat for protection and management to benefit this and other species.
Male and female Surf Scoters form pair bonds on the wintering grounds, far from the place they will eventually breed.