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The Ivory Bill·Birds·Ducks & Grebes

White-winged Scoter, Melanitta deglandi

White winged scoters on a rock in water

White-winged Scoters are sea ducks inhabiting marine and coastal environments in North America.

During the breeding season, they are found in the boreal forests of Canada and Alaska, near freshwater lakes and ponds. In the non-breeding season, they migrate to coastal areas and offshore waters, including bays, estuaries, and open ocean, from Alaska to the eastern coast of the United States.

White-winged Scoters are diving ducks and expert swimmers. They dive underwater to forage for primarily mollusks, crustaceans, and small fish. They use their strong bills to grasp and crush shellfish, including mussels, clams, and snails. They can dive to considerable depths in search of their prey.

Male White-winged Scoters produce various calls, including low, nasal notes and whistles during courtship displays. They also engage in head-bobbing and other visual displays to attract females. White-winged Scoters often nest in colonies, where several pairs establish their nests in close proximity to one another. This behavior provides some benefits in terms of collective protection and shared vigilance against predators.

White-winged Scoters typically nest in the boreal forests near freshwater lakes or ponds. They choose secluded areas with dense vegetation or shrubs, providing cover and protection. The female builds the nest, which is a shallow depression lined with plant material, down feathers, and grasses.

The female lays 6 to 10 creamy white eggs. Incubation lasts for approximately 28 to 32 days, primarily performed by the female. The male does not participate in incubation but may remain nearby to protect the nesting area.

After hatching, the ducklings are led to the water by the female. White-winged Scoter ducklings are precocial, meaning they are relatively independent and can swim and feed themselves shortly after hatching. The female provides guidance and protection for the young, teaching them to find and capture food.

White-winged Scoter ducklings fledge at around 45 to 50 days of age, acquiring the ability to fly. After the breeding season, they undergo molting, replacing their worn-out feathers. During the winter, White-winged Scoters migrate to coastal areas and offshore waters, often forming large flocks. They can migrate long distances to find suitable wintering habitats with abundant food resources.