White Winged Scoter

White Winged Scoter, Vancouver Island, BC
White Winged Scoter, Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Bud Logan

The pacific northwest has a large population of wintering White-Winged Scoter Ducks. They are the largest of the three North American scoter species. The large white spot on the black wing makes this species the easiest to identify while in flight.

White-Winged Scoters are almost entirely black with white eye and wing patches. The bill is orange, becoming red at the tip, with a large black knob at the base. The legs and feet are reddish-orange with dusky webs, and the iris is pale gray.

White-Winged Scoters are a dark brownish-black color with two whitish patches on the sides of their heads, in front of and behind the eye. The bill is blackish gray with a less prominent black knob at the base. The legs and feet are dull orange and the iris is brown.

White Winged Scoter, Vancouver Island, BC
White-winged Scoter, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Bud Logan

The White Winged Scoters nests on freshwater lakes and wetlands in the northwestern interior of North America. They favor large brackish or freshwater wetlands and lakes in their breeding range, with the highest concentrations on lakes that have islands covered with dense, low shrubs or herbaceous vegetation. Female White-Winged Scoters typically nest beneath dense vegetation and lay an average of 9 eggs.

The winter range of White-Winged Scoters includes the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, where they prefer coastal environments, especially bays and inlets. They migrate to the Atlantic and Pacific coasts from breeding areas in northwestern Canada and Alaska.

White-Winged Scoters dive to feed on mollusks, crustaceans, aquatic insects, and small fish found in marine and freshwater habitats. The summer diet also includes pond weeds and aquatic plants in inland areas.

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