Surf Scoter

Melanitta perspicillata (Linnaeus, 1758) FS SURSC 2140
Family: Anseriformes > Anatidae

Surf Scoter, Sarah Kelman

This distinctive seaduck, which breeds in the far north of North America and winters south to Florida and California, is a scarce visitor to Britain & Ireland.

Records from Britain & Ireland mostly fall between October and March, although records off the Aberdeen coast tend to be a little earlier.

Intermediate in size between Common and Velvet Scoters and with a large bill that gives this species a heavy-headed appearance.

Select a topic for more facts and statistics about the Surf Scoter


Surf Scoter identification is often straightforward. The following article may help when identifying Surf Scoter.

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Identifying Scoters

Scoters are known to most of us as winter visitors, usually far off shore. How can we tell the difference between the species, when we see them far out to sea in poor viewing conditions? It's surprisingly easy!

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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.


We have no population estimates for this scarce species.


Surf Scoters are scarce vagrants, with records from many coastal regions.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK


This vagrant has been recorded in several atlases so we have been able to map distribution changes. However, as a rarity these may not show a consistent pattern of change.


Surf Scoter is a scarce vagrant, recorded throughout the year.

Weekly occurence of Surf Scoter from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.


Lifecycle and body size information about Surf Scoter, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.


Sample sizes are too small to report Productivity and Nesting statistics for this species.


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Welsh: Môr-hwyaden yr Ewyn
Catalan: ànec negre frontblanc
Czech: turpan pestrozobý
Danish: Brilleand
Dutch: Brilzee-eend
Estonian: prillvaeras
Finnish: pilkkaniska
French: Macreuse à front blanc
German: Brillenente
Hungarian: pápaszemes réce
Icelandic: Krákönd
Irish: Scótar Toinne
Italian: Orco marino dagli occhiali
Latvian: bangu pile
Lithuanian: baltakakte nuodegule
Norwegian: Brilleand
Polish: uhla pstrodzioba
Portuguese: negrola-de-lunetas
Slovak: turpan okuliarnatý
Slovenian: ocalarka
Spanish: Negrón careto
Swedish: vitnackad svärta

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