Velvet scoter

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Velvet scoter
Velvet Scoter, Eyebrook Reservoir, Leics.jpg
Velvet Scoter, female, Musselburgh.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Melanitta
Subgenus: Melanitta
M. fusca
Binomial name
Melanitta fusca
MelanittaFuscaIUCNver2018 2.png
Range of M. fusca     Breeding      Non-breeding

Anas fusca Linnaeus, 1758

The velvet scoter (Melanitta fusca), also called a velvet duck,[2] is a large sea duck, which breeds over the far north of Europe and Asia west of the Yenisey basin.The genus name is derived from Ancient Greek melas "black" and netta "duck". The species name is from the Latin fuscus "dusky brown".[3]

A small, isolated population nests in eastern Turkey. Stejneger's scoter and the white-winged scoter are sometimes considered conspecific with the velvet scoter, and its two constituent subspecies are then known as M. f. stejnegeri and M. f. deglandi. Velvet, Stejneger's, and white-winged scoter, along with the surf scoter, are placed in the subgenus Melanitta, distinct from the subgenus Oidemia, black scoter and common scoters.

Eggs, Collection Museum Wiesbaden

It winters farther south in temperate zones, Europe as far south as Great Britain, and on the Black and Caspian Sea. Small numbers reach France and northern Spain. It forms large flocks on suitable coastal waters. These are tightly packed, and the birds tend to take off together. The species is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN.

Composite image of velvet scoter

The lined nest is built on the ground close to the sea, lakes or rivers, in woodland or tundra, and typically contains 7–9 eggs. This duck dives for crustaceans and molluscs.

It is characterised by its bulky shape and large bill. It is the largest scoter at 51–58 cm. The male is all black, except for white around the eye and a white speculum. It has a bulbous yellow bill with a black base. The females are brown birds with two pale patches on each side of the head and white wing patches.

The velvet scoter is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2013). "Melanitta fusca". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ Buczacki, Stefan (2005) Fauna Britannica, Hamlyn, London.
  3. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 167, 246. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.

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