Friday, November 03, 2017

Friday's Foto

Scoters are a family of seaducks that are normally seen fairly far offshore. This Surf Scoter not only was hanging around on Jamaica Bay, but was also just a stone's throw from the shore.

Nicknamed by hunters "skunk-head coot", this large seaduck is one of three species of scoter that are native to North America. The other two being Black Scoter and White-winged Scoter (the surf being the only one with all black wings when seen in flight).

Breeding in northern freshwater lakes, their large range includes from western Alaska through Central Labrador in Canada. Overwintering offshore on both sides of this continent, their range extends as far south as Baja California on the west coast and down to South Carolina on the east coast.

Diving for prey on or near the bottom, the Surf Scoter's diet is mostly mollusks but they also feed on aquatic insects, crustaceans, echinoderms, small fish and marine worms.

Their conservation status via IUCN is "Least Concern". They may have gone through a serious decline early in the 20th century, but now is mostly stable or only slightly declining. Wintering concentrations are vulnerable to oil spills and other pollution.

The Surf Scoter's scientific name, Melanitta perspicillata, means black duck; spectacled.

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