Surf Scoter

Melanitta perspicillata

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These beautiful sea ducks breed in Alaska and Canada, but can often be found in Oregon during the winter months where the weather is more temperate. They will often building their nest on or near the ground in close proximity to open water or along the edges of bays or estuaries.

The Surf Scoter is easy to recognize due to its brightly colored bill which is reddish-orange toward the front with a white strip and large black spot closer to the head. Their bodies are usually a glossy black, although the female can be closer to a very dark brown with two white patches on the cheeks.

The birds are almost entirely carnivorous, hunting mollusks and crustaceans along the water’s edge.

Range and Habitat

The Surf Scoter breeds in Alaska and Canada, but will usually be found in the Newport, Oregon, area during the winter months. They can most easily be spotted along the edge of the Yaquina Bay.

Conservation Status

Although not considered threatened or endangered yet, the Surf Scoter’s population has decreased by some 40% in recent years. This rapid decline may be partly due to large-scale environmental accidents, such as oil spills, which have a tendency to kill large numbers of water birds very quickly.