Common Scoter

Melanitta nigra

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  2. Birds
  3. Waterfowl
  4. Common Scoter


A squat, dark seaduck, the Common Scoter gathers in flocks of several hundred or even thousands in winter, mostly feeding far out to sea. Common Scoters are commonly spotted as a line of dark ducks flying low over the water, or as large rafts of black ducks bobbing on the sea.

How to identify

The male Common Scoter is our only all-black duck, with just a small patch of yellow on the bill. The female is dark brown, with a paler cheek.

Where to find it

A very rare nesting bird on pools in the far north of Scotland, but a common winter visitor to coasts.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

The breeding population of Common Scoter has recently declined drastically in the UK making this a Red List species. This decline may be due to a number of factors: wintering populations are vulnerable to oil spills; young birds are vulnerable to predation by Mink, Foxes, Crows and Magpies; and birds are sensitive to the availability of food, competition occurring particularly in areas that are stocked for fishing. The Wildlife Trusts work closely with fishermen, farmers, landowners and developers to ensure that our rare wildlife is protected. You can help this vital work by supporting your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Common Scoter
Latin name
Melanitta nigra
Length: 46-50cm Wingspan: 84cm Weight: 1kg
Conservation status
Classified in the UK as a Red List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review and as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.