Common Scoter Melanitta nigra   [Linnaeus, 1758]

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Order: Anseriformes Family: Anatidae
BTO Codes: CX, COMSC EURING No: 2130
Number in Britain: 100 thousand birds (Winter)
Conservation Status:
European: Not a species of concern
Global: (Details)
Status in UK: (A)  Migrant Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
Subspecies: Monotypic
Length: 49 cm Wingspan: 84 cm Weight: M/F: 1 kg    
Scientific name from: Gr.: melas=black + netta=a duck and L.: niger=shining black
World Distribution: BREEDS: n Eurasia WINTERS: south to Mediterranean & Black Seas
Habitat: Tundra lakes, on migration rivers, lakes & coasts
Diet: Mostly molluscs, also insects, fish eggs in freshwater habitats
TitBit: Usually seen in large rafts of hundreds, or thousands, of birds well offshore at sea, Scoter will dive up to 30m to hunt for their shellfish prey.  
Identification Tips:
  Images from IBC or search flickr
  Videos from IBC
  Sound from xeno-canto
Crossley ID photos

Population and Distribution

Population Trend: No population trend available
Distribution: Atlas Mapstore   
British Population Size:
    Winter: 100 thousand individuals in 2004/05 - 2008/09
    Summer: 52 Pairs in 2007
    First Record: Recorded in Medieval times [Fossil evidence from Middle Pleistocene, c. 500,000 yr ago]
    First Breeding Record: Sutherland 1855
    Latest Survey: Musgrove, A. et al. (2013) British Birds 106:64-100
    Conservation Status: RED because Recent Breeding Population Decline,
   Previous Assessments: 2002-2007 RED     1996-2001 RED  
   Races of Concern:
UK Biodiversity Action Plan (Lead Partner: RSPB & WWT)
Habitat Occupancy (in the Breeding Season):
    No habitat data from BBS
European Population Size:
    Summer: 3900 to 12 thousand pairs
Population Assesment from Birds in Europe
Distribution in Europe mapped by the EBCC Atlas
Listed on the Appendices/Schedules of: WCA(I), WBD(II*,III*), Bern(III), Bonn(II), AEWA, NERC (41)
Survey Results:

Breeding and Survival

Egg Size: 66 x 45 mm Egg Weight: 72.0 g (of which 8 % is shell)
Number of Nest Records: 0
Clutch Size: 6 - 8 eggs
Incubation: 30- 31 days   by the: Female
Fledging: 45 - 50days as: Precocial, downy
First Clutches Laid: Unavailable
Number of Broods: 1
Number Ringed: Annual Totals
Adult Survival: 0.783       
Juvenile Survival: No data
Age at First Breeding: Typical Lifespan: No data
Maximum Recorded Age: 13 years 2 months 27 days (set in 2009)
Read a summary of Ringing Recoveries


Ring Size: G
Wing Length Adult: Insufficient Data
Juvenile: Insufficient Data
Male: Insufficient Data
Female: Insufficient Data
Weight Adult: Insufficient Data
Juvenile: Insufficient Data
Male: Insufficient Data
Female: Insufficient Data

Other Names

Black Scoter
Has Included Melanitta americana 
Gaelic: Lach-bheag-dhubh Welsh: Môr-hwyaden Ddu
Danish: Sortand Dutch: Zwarte zeeëend
Finnish: Mustalintu French: Macreuse noire
German: Trauerente Hungarian: Fekete réce
Icelandic: Hrafnsönd Irish: Scótar
Italian: Orchetto marino Norwegian: Svartand
Polish: Markaczka Portuguese: Pato-negro
Spanish: Negrón común Swedish: Sjöorre
Collective Noun:Raft

For More Information...

Books and Monographs:
   Kear, J 2005 Ducks, geese and swans Oxford University Press [598.48 KEA]
   Collinson, M. et al. 2006 Species limits within the genus Melanitta, the scoters British Birds 99:183-201
   Cabot, D. 2009 Wildfowl Collins, London
See Also:
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Wikipedia entry
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BirdLife species page
Recent sightings and information from BirdGuides