Answer to What Next? This Duck.

The Question was:

What species, age and sex is this duck?

First summer female White-winged Scoter, Point Pelee, Ontario, Canada, May 2011. David Cooper

Yep that’s what it is. If you look closely it appears to have pale fringes to wing coverts which point towards a retained juvenile feathers. Only now its nearly a year old (so ‘first summer’). Had David also seen the belly (which he didn’t) I bet it would have been white or peppered white and not uniformly dark (latter = adult). The 3  scoter species with ‘white wings’ have bill shapes which are (rather poor) ghosts of the male bill shape. So I can just make out the 2 stepped profile , which is more obvious on a male. I can also see the feathering over the bill base is quite forward over the nostrils. On Stejneger’s Scoter the profile is a virtual straight line from bill tip to in line with the eye. Flat with no steps. And the feathers envelop the bill but recede considerably over the nostrils.

What do I mean? Have a look at Ian Lewington’s illustration of the 3 taxa. Like I said, not easy but with a bit of practice…


About Martin Garner

I am a Free Spirit
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One Response to Answer to What Next? This Duck.

  1. Chatterbirds says:

    Thanks for the tips on identifying the three white-winged scoter taxa.

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