Melanitta perspicillata (Linnaeus, 1758)
Family: Anseriformes > Anatidae
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.
Surf Scoter identification is often straightforward. The following article may help when identifying Surf Scoter.
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!
Develop your bird ID skills with our training courses
Our interactive online courses are a great way to develop your bird identification skills, whether you're new to the hobby or a competent birder looking to hone your abilities.Browse training courses
Status and Trends
Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.
Surf Scoters are scarce vagrants, with records from many coastal regions.
Occupied 10-km squares in UK
|No. occupied in winter||35|
|% occupied in winter||1.2|
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.
|% change in range in winter (1981–84 to 2007–11)||+150%|
Surf Scoter is a scarce vagrant, recorded throughout the year.
Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.
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.
|Field Codes||2-letter: FS | 5-letter code: SURSC | Euring: 2140|
For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name
Would you like to search for another species?