Family Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)

Least Concern

Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata)


French: Macreuse à front blanc German: Brillenente Spanish: Negrón careto

Anas perspicillata


, 1758,

Canada = Hudson Bay ex Edwards




Breeds in North America from W Alaska E through C Canada to Labrador. Winters from Aleutian Is S to Baja California and C Sonora (Mexico) on Pacific coast, and along Atlantic coast as far as S Florida and Gulf Coast.

Descriptive notes

43–56 cm; c. 870–1000 g; wingspan 76–92 cm. Medium-sized seaduck that is distinguished from both M. nigra and M. fusca by smaller size,... read more


Breeding male can utter low whistled notes or sharp “puk-puk”, while female gives guttural “krrrak... read more


Breeds on small (typically < 20 ha), shallow bodies of fresh water in boreal (spruce) forests or... read more

Food and feeding

Chiefly molluscs; also crustaceans, worms, echinoderms and, mainly in summer, insects and their larvae and plant material, such as seeds... read more


Starts May/Jun, with pairs generally arriving on breeding grounds immediately following snow melt in second half of May and first clutches... read more


Migratory, with adult males leaving breeding grounds as early as mid Jun, failed females in third... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Fairly common, although perhaps currently involved in decline evident on both coasts of continent, e.g. numbers in Prince William... read more

Recommended citation

Carboneras, C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata). 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 5 December 2019).