Surf Scoter: Medium diving duck, entirely black except for white patches on forehead and nape. Bill is orange, black, and white. Eyes are white. Legs and feet are orange. Dives for food, primarily mollusks and crustaceans. Rapid direct flight with strong wing beats. Flies in straight line formation.
Range and Habitat
Surf Scoter: Breeds in Alaska and across northern Canada to Labrador. Spends winters mainly along coasts, from Alaska south to California and from Newfoundland south to Florida, and rarely to Texas. Breeds on northern lakes and spends winters almost entirely on the ocean and in large coastal bays.
The Surf Scoter has a boldly patterned head that is the basis for its colloquial name "skunk-headed coot." The only scoter confined as a breeding species to America, they are among the least studied of northern waterfowl.
Gulls often force surfacing ducks to relinquish their prey, thus flocks frequently dive in unison. This possibly promotes synchronous surfacing, when groups are less likely to be kleptoparasitized than individual ducks.
Rarely diving in water that exceeds 30 feet deep, they forage in the zone of breaking waves, and habitually dive through foaming wave crests.
A group of ducks has many collective nouns, including a "brace", "flush", "paddling", "raft", and "team" of ducks.