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White-winged scoter

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Title: White-winged scoter  
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Subject: List of birds of Great Britain, Merginae, Melanitta, List of birds of Kyrgyzstan, List of birds of Aleutian Islands
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White-winged scoter

White-winged scoter
Adult male of the American race deglandi
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Subfamily: Merginae
Genus: Melanitta
Species: M. deglandi
Binomial name
Melanitta deglandi
(Bonaparte, 1850)

Melanitta fusca deglandi
Melanitta fusca stejnegeri

The white-winged scoter (Melanitta deglandi) is a large sea duck.


  • Description 1
  • Taxonomy 2
  • Distribution 3
  • Behavior 4
    • Breeding 4.1
    • Food 4.2
  • References 5
  • External links 6


The white-winged scoter is the largest of the three North American scoter species. It is characterised by its bulky shape and large bill. This is the largest species of scoter. Females range from 950–1,950 g (2.09–4.30 lb) and 48–56 cm (19–22 in), averaging 1,180 g (2.60 lb) and 52.3 cm (20.6 in). She is brown with pale head patches. The male ranges from 1,360–2,128 g (2.998–4.691 lb) and from 53–60 cm (21–24 in), averaging 1,380 g (3.04 lb) and 55 cm (22 in). He is all black, except for white around the eye and a white speculum. This scoter's bill has a black base and a large knob.

White patches are visible but not conspicuous when wings are folded

There are a number of differing characteristics of the Eastern Siberian race and the American race from Alaska and Canada to west of the Hudson Bay. Males of the American subspecies have browner flanks, dark yellow coloration of most of the bill and a less tall bill knob, approaching the velvet scoter. The Asian form has a very tall knob at the base of its mostly orange-yellow bill. Females are identical in the field.

The Latin binomial commemorates the French zoologist Dr. Côme-Damien Degland (1787–1856).


It was formerly considered to be conspecific with the velvet scoter, and some taxonomists still regard it as so. These two species, and the surf scoter, are placed in the subgenus Melanitta, distinct from the subgenus Oidemia, black and common scoters.


The white-winged scoter breeds over the far north of Asia east of the Yenisey Basin, and North America. It winters further south in temperate zones, on the Great Lakes, the coasts of the northern USA and the southern coasts of Canada, and Asia as far south as China. It forms large flocks on suitable coastal waters. These are tightly packed, and the birds tend to take off together.



The lined nest is built on the ground close to the sea, lakes or rivers, in woodland or tundra. 5–11 eggs are laid. The pinkish eggs average 46.9 mm (1.85 in) in breadth, 68.2 mm (2.69 in) in length and 82.4 g (2.91 oz) in weight. The incubation period can range from 25 to 30 days. After about 21 days, neighboring females may start to behave aggressively towards other nesting females, resulting in confusion and mixing of broods. By the time she is done brooding, a female may be tending to as much as 40 offspring due to the mixing from these conflicts. The female will tend to her brood for up to 3 weeks and then abandon them, but the young will usually stay together from another 3 weeks. Flight capacity is thought to be gained at 63 to 77 days of age.


In freshwater, this species primarily feeds on crustaceans and insects; while in saltwater areas, it feeds on molluscs and crustaceans. The favorite foods of the American (sub)species are an amphipod (Hyalella azteca) in freshwater, and rock clams (Protothaca staminea), Atlantic razor clams (Siliqua spp.), and Arctic wedge clams (Mesodesma arctatus).


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External links

  • Melanitta deglandiBirdLife species factsheet for
  • Pitangus sulphuratus on Avibase
  • White-winged scoter videos, photos, and sounds at the Internet Bird Collection
  • White-winged scoter photo gallery at VIREO (Drexel University)
  • White-winged Scoter Species Account – Cornell Lab of Ornithology
  • Melanitta deglandiInteractive range map of at IUCN Red List maps
  • Audio recordings of White-winged scoter on Xeno-canto.
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