World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Common scoter

Article Id: WHEBN0000331600
Reproduction Date:

Title: Common scoter  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Melanitta, MV Sea Empress, Shell Flat, WWT Arundel, Nushagak Peninsula
Collection: Birds of Europe, Birds of Gibraltar, Birds of Iran, Birds of the Middle East, Birds of Turkey, Melanitta
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Common scoter

Common scoter
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Subfamily: Merginae
Genus: Melanitta
Subgenus: (Oidemia)
Species: M. nigra
Binomial name
Melanitta nigra
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The common scoter (Melanitta nigra) is a large sea duck, 43–54 cm (17–21 in) in length, which breeds over the far north of Europe and Asia east to the Olenyok River. The black scoter (M. americana) of North America and eastern Siberia is sometimes considered a subspecies of M. nigra.


  • Description 1
    • Vocalisations 1.1
  • Ecology 2
  • UK population and current issues 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


It is characterised by its bulky shape and large bill. The male is all black with a bulbous bill which shows some yellow coloration around the nostrils. The female is a brown bird with pale cheeks, very similar to female black scoter.

This species can be distinguished from other scoters, apart from black scoter, by the lack of white anywhere on the drake and the more extensive pale areas on the female.


Black scoter and common scoter have diagnosably distinct vocalisations.[2]


It winters farther south in temperate zones, on the coasts of Europe as far south as Morocco. It forms large flocks on suitable coastal waters. These are tightly packed, and the birds tend to take off and dive together.

Egg, Collection Museum Wiesbaden

The lined nest is built on the ground close to the sea, lakes or rivers, in woodland or tundra. 6-8 eggs are laid.

This species dives for crustaceans and molluscs; it also eats aquatic insects and small fish when on fresh water.

The common scoter is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.

UK population and current issues

In 1977, Campbell estimated the wintering population in north-western Europe to be about 130,000, mostly in the Baltic area, and the UK population at about 20,000. There is a marked passage in spring through the Straits of Dover.[3]

In 2003, a previously unknown wintering population of 50,000+ was found on Shell Flat in the north west of England by Cirrus Energy whilst surveying the area for a new wind farm.[4] Due to this development and an oil spill off the coast of Wales in 1996, questions about the common scoter population have been asked in the UK Parliament.[5]

Although the common scoter is a winter visitor to the UK, there are some breeding pairs in the north of Scotland. The species has been placed on the RSPB conservation Red List because of a greater than 50% decline in the UK breeding population. In 1998, the UK Government agreed to a biodiversity action plan (BAP) for the common scoter to increase the breeding population to 100 pairs by 2008.[6] The Northern Irish population, which had reached a peak of 150–200 pairs in the 1970s, crashed disastrously in the 1990s and by 2010 there were no confirmed reports of breeding. However, 100 pairs were recorded in the south of Ireland in a 1995 survey. UK breeding pairs have declined to 35 as of 2015 and attempts are being made to research why.[7]

At the third steering group meeting of the UK Common Scoter Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP), the population in the Shell Flat area was put at 16,500 wintering scoter and 5,000 moulting birds, of which 4,000 used the footprint area of the proposed wind farm.[8]


  1. ^  
  2. ^  
  3. ^ Campbell, B. (1977). Birds of Coast and Sea Britain and Northern Europe. Oxford University Press.  
  4. ^ [5]
  5. ^ [6]
  6. ^ [7]
  7. ^ BBC (London) Chasing Britain's most threatened duck
  8. ^ [8]
  • Underhill, M.C.; Gittings, T.; Callaghan, D.A.; Hughes, B.; Kirby, J.S.; Delany, S. (1 July 1998). in Britain and Ireland in 1995"Melanitta nigra nigra"Status and distribution of breeding Common Scoters (PDF). Bird Study 45 (2): 146–156.  

External links

  • Common scoter Photos, text and map at
  • Melanitta nigraBirdLife species factsheet for
  • Melanitta nigra on Avibase
  • Melanitta nigraInteractive range map of at IUCN Red List maps
  • Audio recordings of Common scoter on Xeno-canto.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.