December 15, 2015 – Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata)

Sometimes colloquially called “skunk-headed coots,” these seaducks breed on freshwater lakes in northern Canada and Alaska, wintering along the coasts of North America. Some show up as vagrants in parts of Europe and Asia. They dive for freshwater invertebrates, especially mollusks, and occasionally eat some plant material. Their nests are depressions lined with grasses and down, located near water. Ducklings often accidentally switch mothers when lakes are crowded. Since mothers only provide protection for the young, it is likely that this behavior is not strongly selected against.