The Black Scoter Melanitta americana, called the American Scoter by some and Melanitta nigra by others*, is a large seaduck rather readily identified by the large, shockingly-bright-yellow knob on the male’s bill that stands out amazingly well against the all-black plumage that gives the bird its common name. The female is dressed in more muted tones of brown with pale cheeks. Both are appealing to the eye and enjoyable to watch as they alternately swim on the surface or dive down deep after dinner.
These two Black Scoters were photographed from shore at the end of January 2010 in Massachusetts. Though I failed to get a shot of it I did witness the male come up with a shellfish from one dive, and I assume that is what both birds were after on their frequent forays underwater.
This post has been submitted to Bird Photography Weekly #76. Go check it out!
*Those who call the bird Black Scoter tend to use Melanitta nigra while those who call the bird American Scoter tend to use Melanitta americana, for obvious reasons (I decided to mix things up just to be confusing). The Common Scoter of Eurasia, which is sometimes considered conspecific, goes by Melanitta nigra. So lumpers call the bird featured in this post Melanitta nigra and splitters use Melanitta americana. At least, that is how I understand things, please feel free to correct me if I am wrong…
I’m a splitter, thanks to the IOC, who agree with both of us!
Whether you’re a lumper or a splitter doesn’t seem to matter to the Scoters. They apparently go about their mollusk and crustacean eating without much notice.
Great shots of the Black Scoter Corey, especially that first shot of the female with her mouth open.
Nice shots – I’m enjoying seeing the actual results of your digi-scoping from the weekend!
@Andy Gibb: Three cheers for the IOC!
@Larry Jordan: Exactly…though I did learn that they get very offended if you call them “scooters.” 🙂
@Christopher: Thanks…both for the compliment and for getting us to where the birds were.
Nice Series of The Scoters…
Thanks for the info..
My grandkids saw the black scooter and didn’t know what it was. We looked it up and wanted you to know that we saw it. It is swimming in the pond next to your house. Please reply back soon.