Melanitta americana - (Linnaeus, 1758)
Black Scoter
Other English Common Names: American Scoter
Synonym(s): Melanitta nigra (Linnaeus, 1758)
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Melanitta nigra (Linnaeus, 1758) (TSN 175171)
French Common Names: macreuse à bec jaune
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.866837
Element Code: ABNJB17040
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Waterfowl
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Anseriformes Anatidae Melanitta
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). Chesser, R.T., R.C. Banks, F.K. Barker, C. Cicero, J.L. Dunn, A.W. Kratter, I.J. Lovette, P.C. Rasmussen, J.V. Remsen, Jr., J.D. Rising, D.F. Stotz, and K. Winker. 2010. Fifty-first supplement to the American Ornithologists' Union Check-list of North American Birds. The Auk 127(3):726-744.
Concept Reference Code: A10AOU01EHUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Melanitta americana
Taxonomic Comments: Formerly treated as conspecific with M. nigra (Linnaeus, 1758) [Black Scoter] of Eurasia, but separated on the basis of courtship calls (Sangster 2009) and color, form, and feathering of the bill in adult males and most adult females (Collinson et al. 2006) (AOU 2010).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 09Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 21Nov1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Large global population with very large and widely dispersed continental subpopulations, fairly low degree of threat, particularly on breeding grounds.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5B,N5N (05Jan1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N4N5B,N4N5N,N4N5M (08Dec2017)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S3N), Alaska (S3S4B,S3N), California (SNRN), Colorado (SNA), Connecticut (SNA), Delaware (S3N), Florida (SNRN), Georgia (S5), Illinois (SNA), Indiana (S1N), Iowa (S1N), Kansas (SNA), Kentucky (SNA), Louisiana (S1S3N), Maine (S3S4N), Maryland (S3N), Massachusetts (S5N), Michigan (SNRN), Minnesota (SNRM), Missouri (SNA), Nebraska (SNRN), New Hampshire (SNA), New Jersey (SNA), New York (SNRN), North Carolina (S4N), North Dakota (SNA), Ohio (SNA), Oregon (SNA), Pennsylvania (SNA), Rhode Island (SNA), South Carolina (SNRN), South Dakota (SNA), Tennessee (S3N), Texas (S3N), Vermont (SNA), Virginia (SNRN), Washington (S3N), West Virginia (SNA), Wisconsin (SNA)
Canada British Columbia (S3S4N), Labrador (S3B,SUN,SUM), Manitoba (S3S4B), New Brunswick (S3M,S1S2N), Newfoundland Island (S2B,S2N,SUM), Northwest Territories (S3B), Nova Scotia (S4N), Nunavut (SUB,SUM), Ontario (S4B,S4N), Prince Edward Island (S4N), Quebec (S5B), Saskatchewan (S2M)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: NT - Near threatened

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: BREEDING: North America in western and southern Alaska, Aleutians, scattered areas in central and eastern Canada, including southern Keewatin, northern Quebec, and Newfoundland. Also found (and may breed) from southern Yukon and Mackenzie east to Labrador and Newfoundland. Eurasia from Iceland, British Isles, Spitsbergen, and Scandinavia east across Russia and Siberia to Anadyrland, Sakhalin, and Kamchatka. NON-BREEDING: North America on Pacific coast from Pribilofs and Aleutians to southern California, Great Lakes, Atlantic coast from Newfoundland to South Carolina, Florida. Eurasia from breeding grounds south to Mediterranean Sea, Korea, eastern China, and Japan. Accidental in Hawaii (Midway) and in North America to Gulf Coast (AOU 1983). In the U.S. and southern Canada, areas of winter abundance include coastal areas of southern New Jersey, South Carolina, British Columbia, and Washington (Root 1988). In the early 1990s, USFWS Winter Sea Duck Survey in eastern North America found the highest densities of scoters (all species) in Virginia, New York, Maine, and Massachusetts (descending order of abundance, Kehoe 1994).

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300

Population Size: >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: No precise estimates available, but minimum numbers are at least 500,000 individuals in western Europe in winter (early 1970's) and 500,000 individuals in North America, with additional large numbers in eastern Asia (Madge and Burn 1988).

Overall Threat Impact: Low
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Hydroelectric projects in Quebec and Labrador have had localized impacts on breeding habitat, but effects on the continental population probably have been small; urbanization and industrialization of many coastal bays and estuaries have degraded some winter habitat; chemical contamination and heavy metal accumulation of winter food supplies possibly may be affecting reproductive success of some populations (Kehoe 1994). Vulnerable to overharvest through hunting (Kehoe 1994).

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: For the period 1984-1994, estimated to be "declining in NW North America; possibly stable in Russia" (Goudie et al. 1994). However, available population data are generally inadequate for reliable determination of population trend (Kehoe 1994).

Long-term Trend: Decline of <50% to Relatively Stable
Long-term Trend Comments: Some indications exist of long-term gradual population declines. Number of birds wintering in western Europe may have declined from 1-1.5 million to 500,000 between early 1950's and early 1970's (Madge and Burn 1988). Numbers of wintering scoters of all three species along the Atlantic coast show a gradual, but non-significant, decline between 1954 and 1994 (Kehoe 1996).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDING: North America in western and southern Alaska, Aleutians, scattered areas in central and eastern Canada, including southern Keewatin, northern Quebec, and Newfoundland. Also found (and may breed) from southern Yukon and Mackenzie east to Labrador and Newfoundland. Eurasia from Iceland, British Isles, Spitsbergen, and Scandinavia east across Russia and Siberia to Anadyrland, Sakhalin, and Kamchatka. NON-BREEDING: North America on Pacific coast from Pribilofs and Aleutians to southern California, Great Lakes, Atlantic coast from Newfoundland to South Carolina, Florida. Eurasia from breeding grounds south to Mediterranean Sea, Korea, eastern China, and Japan. Accidental in Hawaii (Midway) and in North America to Gulf Coast (AOU 1983). In the U.S. and southern Canada, areas of winter abundance include coastal areas of southern New Jersey, South Carolina, British Columbia, and Washington (Root 1988). In the early 1990s, USFWS Winter Sea Duck Survey in eastern North America found the highest densities of scoters (all species) in Virginia, New York, Maine, and Massachusetts (descending order of abundance, Kehoe 1994).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, AL, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV
Canada BC, LB, MB, NB, NF, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A sea duck (scoter).
Reproduction Comments: In northern Quebec, egg laying began in the first week of June; hatching occurred in the second and third weeks of July (Savard and Lamothe, 1991, Can. Field-Nat. 105:488-496). Clutch size is 5-8 (often 8). Incubation lasts 27-28 days (Terres 1980). Young are tended by female, independent in 6-7 weeks (Harrison 1978).
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: Migrates northward March-May, southward September-October. Atlantic Flyway wintering population is thought to come from Labrador and the west coast of Hudson Bay (Kehoe 1994).
Marine Habitat(s): Near shore
Estuarine Habitat(s): Bay/sound
Riverine Habitat(s): Low gradient
Lacustrine Habitat(s): Deep water, Shallow water
Palustrine Habitat(s): HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Tundra
Habitat Comments: Mostly coastal waters, less commonly on large inland lakes and rivers when not breeding. Nests near lakes and pools on grassy or bushy tundra and in northern taiga (AOU 1983). Usually nests close to water. The nest is a depression lined with plant material, down and feathers.
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Food Comments: Except in inland habitats, mollusks comprise a majority of the diet; the blue mussel (MYTILUS EDULIS) often is a major food (Bellrose 1976). Also eats crustaceans, some fishes and plant foods, the latter being most important in inland habitats. Usually feeds in protected areas where water is no more than 25 ft deep.
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Diurnal
Length: 48 centimeters
Weight: 1100 grams
Economic Attributes
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Economic Comments: In recent decades, annual harvest in eastern North America averaged 22,500 (58% in eastern Canada) (Kehoe 1994).
Management Summary
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Biological Research Needs: More information is needed on basic biology (Kehoe 1994).
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Diving Ducks and Sea Ducks

Use Class: Breeding
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical breeding , or current and likely recurring breeding, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Little information on breeding home ranges; separation distance somewhat arbitrary. Territories not defended in eiders, but goldeneyes defend small (0.18 to 1.45 hectares) territories (Eadie et al. 2000). Philopatry to breeding area strong in Common Eider (Reed 1975, Wakeley and Mendall 1976, Swennen 1990), and Spectacled Eider (Grand and Flint 1997).
Date: 29May2001
Author: Cannings, S.
Notes: Contains all members of the tribes Aythini, Mergini and Oxyurini.

Use Class: Migratory stopover
Subtype(s): Staging area, Foraging area, Roosting area
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of recurring presence of migrating or staging flocks (including historical); and potential recurring presence at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of 25 birds/square kilometer in appropriate habitat. Occurrences should be locations where the species is resident for some time during the appropriate season; it is preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 7 days annually. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance somewhat arbitrary; set at 10 kilometers to define occurrences of managable size for conservation purposes. Occurrences defined primarily on the basis of areas supporting concentrations of foraging birds, rather than on the basis of distinct populations.

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Subtype(s): Molting area, Migration staging area, Wintering area, Non-breeding feeding concentration area, Roost
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of recurring presence of molting, staging, or wintering flocks (including historical); and potential recurring presence at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of 25 birds/square kilometer in appropriate habitat. For wintering occurrences, it would be preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 20 days annually. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.
Mapping Guidance: Map roosting and feeding areas with separate polygons in same EO.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Fidelity to molting sites (one or two lakes) high in Barrow's Goldeneye (van de Wetering 1997); fidelity to wintering sites probably high in Barrow's Goldeneye (Savard 1985). Separation distance somewhat arbitrary, set at 10 kilometers to define occurrences of managable size for conservation purposes. Occurrences defined primarily on the basis of areas supporting concentrations of foraging birds, rather than on the basis of distinct populations.
Date: 21Mar2001
Author: Cannings, S.
Notes: Contains all members of the tribes Aythini, Mergini and Oxyurini.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 01Oct1997
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Mehlman, D.W.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 06Sep1994
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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