White-winged Scoter: Medium sea duck, mostly black except for white eye patches, large white wing patches. Bill is orange with large black basal knob. Red-orange legs, feet. Dives to 40 feet, feeds primarily on shellfish. Direct flight with steady wing beats. Flies in straight line or V formation.
Range and Habitat
White-winged Scoter: Breeds in Alaska and much of western and central Canada. Spends winters along the coasts, from Alaska south to California and from Newfoundland south to the Carolinas, but rarely to Florida and Texas. Breeds on large lakes and winters mainly on the ocean and on large coastal bays.
The White-winged Scoter breeds farther inland than the other two scoter species and is the one most likely to appear inland on lakes and rivers during migration. It is the largest of the three scoters.
Small numbers winter on the eastern Great Lakes. Populations there had declined during the 1970s, but appear to be increasing in response to the invasion of the zebra mussel, a new and abundant food source.
They are among the last ducks to migrate to breeding grounds and may not begin nesting until mid-June. Females return to nest near the area where they hatched, occasionally using the nests of other birds.
A group of ducks has many collective nouns, including a "brace", "flush", "paddling", "raft", and "team" of ducks.