Family Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)

Near Threatened

Black Scoter (Melanitta americana)


French: Macreuse à bec jaune German: Pazifiktrauerente Spanish: Negrón americano
Other common names: American Scoter

Oidemia Americana


, 1832,

Hudson Bay


Case for recognition as a full species#R distinct from closely related M. nigra reinforced by recent vocal analysis#R. Differs from nigra in more evenly upsloping bill protuberance from half-way along culmen vs much more sharply rising protuberance from closer to bill base (2); all-yellow vs yellow-centred bill protuberance (3); distinctly different vocalizations (at least 2). Monotypic.


Breeds from R Yana, in Siberia, E to Alaska; and E Canada from coast of Hudson Bay to Newfoundland. Winters on coasts of Russian Far East, Japan, Korea and E China, and in America on Pacific coast from Pribilof Is and Aleutians Is S to N Baja California and on Atlantic coast S to N Florida; also inland on Great Lakes.

Descriptive notes

43–54 cm; 861–1087 g; wingspan 70–90 cm. Distinguishable from other Melanitta by head and bill patterns, while lack of white in wing separates this species from ... read more


Usually silent (although arguably more vocal than other Melanitta). Recent analysis... read more


Breeds on freshwater pools, small lakes or slow-flowing rivers and streams in tundra, northern... read more

Food and feeding

Mostly molluscs, occasionally other aquatic invertebrates (crustaceans, worms, insects) and small fish; also some plant material (seeds,... read more


Starts May/Jun, with nests initiated 11 Jun and 17 Jul in Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska, over four seasons, and first broods recorded in... read more


Migratory, with initial movement away from breeding grounds to moult commencing in Jun; forms large... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Currently treated as Near Threatened. Widespread and common over most of range, but probably certain reduction in numbers at present, at least in... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Black Scoter (Melanitta americana). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 12 December 2019).