Family Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)

Least Concern

Common Scoter (Melanitta nigra)


French: Macreuse noire German: Trauerente Spanish: Negrón común
Other common names: Black Scoter (when lumped with Melanitta americana)

Anas nigra


, 1758,

Lapland and England


Closely related form americana often treated as a separate species, as here (see that species)#R#R. Monotypic.


Breeds in E Greenland, Iceland and N Britain E across Scandinavia and N Russia to R Olenek, Siberia. Winters in Baltic Sea, on Atlantic coast of Europe and N Africa S to Mauritania, and in W Mediterranean.

Descriptive notes

43–54 cm; male 964–1339 g, female 973–1233 g, wingspan 79–90 cm. Distinguishable from other Melanitta by head and bill pattern, while lack of... read more


Usually silent (although arguably more vocal than other Melanitta), but males produce thin... read more


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

Food and feeding

Mostly molluscs (30 different spp., e.g. Macoma balthica, Cerastroderma edule, Mytilus edulis, Mya arenaria... read more


Starts May/Jun, with first broods recorded in Scotland in Jul. Arrives on breeding grounds in pairs, which form in winter, although... read more


Migratory, with initial movement away from breeding grounds to moult commencing in Jun (non-... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread and common over most of range, but probably certain reduction in numbers at present, at least in some areas. Has... read more

Recommended citation

Carboneras, C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Common Scoter (Melanitta nigra). 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 24 February 2020).