Melanitta nigra

Common Scoter

Scientific name: Melanitta nigra

Did you know: The Common Scoter, a striking seabird, is known for its deep diving abilities, reaching depths of up to 30 metres in search of shellfish!

What Do Common Scoters Look Like? (how to identify them)

Common Scoters are distinctive seaducks with a robust build. The male is strikingly all-black with a yellow bill, while the female is a subtler dark brown with a paler face. 

When flying, they form impressive lines along the coast and can be seen in large groups floating offshore.

Differences Between Male And Female Common Scoters

The male Common Scoter is easily identified by its entirely black plumage and distinctively yellow bill. 

In contrast, the female is generally brown with lighter cheeks, making her more camouflaged against the coastal landscapes.

What Do Common Scoters Eat?

Their diet primarily consists of molluscs, which they adeptly dive to retrieve from the ocean depths. 

Common Scoters are known for their strong preference for shellfish, which they can consume in large quantities.

Where Do Common Scoters Live? (inc. migration info)

Breeding predominantly in northern regions, Common Scoters are migratory birds. They spend winters along European coasts as far south as Morocco and are known to form tight, large flocks in coastal waters during this period.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Common Scoters)

Common Scoters have distinct vocalisations that set them apart from similar species. Their calls are an important aspect of their identification, especially during the breeding season.

Fun Common Scoter Facts (kid friendly)

  • Common Scoters can dive up to 30 metres deep!
  • They are known to form large groups, sometimes in the thousands, during winter.
  • The male Common Scoter is the only all-black duck in the UK.
  • These birds are specially protected under UK law due to their vulnerability.
  • Fascinatingly, in parts of France, they were historically eaten on meatless Fridays.

Common Scoter Video

Facts About The Common Scoter

Diet: Molluscs.
Bird Family: Ducks, geese and swans
Length: 44-54cm
Wingspan: 79-90cm
Weight: 650-1,300g
Scientific Name: Melanitta nigra

The Common Scoter Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December