The third and last scoter that breeds in Alaska – or North America for that matter – is the very cool Surf Scoter.
With the white neck patches and that extravagant white and orange bill, it’s very easy to identify this species. This medium-sized sea duck breeds in boreal forest lakes of northern Canada and Alaska, and during nonbreeding periods is widely distributed in nearshore marine habitats along both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America.
Surf Scoters are aptly named. They forage in the surf, diving in and out of the waves. They are very strong swimmers, diving as deep as 25 meters.
Although data are sparse, especially for eastern North America, across the continent numbers of the three scoter species combined appear to have declined appreciably during the past 30 to 60 years. Depending on timeframe and location, estimates of decline range from about 40–80%. There’s some evidence that those declines have slowed or stabilized since the 1990s. Reasons for these declines are mostly unknown.
Camera geek stuff: f8, 1/250, ISO250.
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