Winter Visitor – White-winged Scoter

This is the first of two posts with photos from a cold February morning. I am processing the photos as we hunker down for a 2 day deep freeze with wind chills well below 0F. Luckily it is a very short term arctic blast and we can get back out again soon.

This a collection of photographs of one the three Scoter species that winter on our shore. White-winged Scoters summer in central Canada and up into Alaska. They come down to the North Atlantic and North Pacific coasts where they can feast mainly on mollusks as they sit out winter with open water and plenty of food. They also like crabs as you will see.

These sea ducks get their name from the prominent patch on their wings and are easily identified in flight, even at a distance. Oh, and we refer to them as sea ducks since they are only found in or near salt water when they are here. But they are freshwater ducks in the summer, living and foraging in lakes and rivers.

We observed a small flock that had moved into a tidal creek near the mouth of the Merrimack River where we could get very nice views. The males have an orange tipped bill and a white comma (or Nike Swoosh) behind the eye. The white wing patch is barely visible.

The flock had located lots of small crabs and were busy dining on them. They bring them up and toss them around for a while as they position them for swallowing. This is a female. They have two white patches on their heads but lack other coloration.

This is a young male. It has not developed the adult colors yet, but he is adept at flipping his meal. Down the hatch!

Next, a few birds from a cold morning at the beach. The thermometer read -13F (-25C) this morning, and that doesn’t include the wind chill. I will stay in a warm place while I work on that next post.

2 thoughts on “Winter Visitor – White-winged Scoter

  1. Oops – in my last post I meant to say that we agreed that the White-wing scoter is a beautiful duck, not the Black.

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