The Velvet Scoter (Melanitta fusca) is a large sea duck, which breeds over the far north of Europe and Asia west of the Yenisey basin. A small, isolated population nests in eastern Turkey.
The East Siberian and North American White-winged Scoter is sometimes considered conspecific (of, or belonging to, the same species) with the Velvet Scoter, and its two constituent subspecies are then known as M. f. stejnegeri and M. f. deglandi.
It winters further 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.
Nesting / Breeding:
The lined nest is built on the ground close to the sea, lakes or rivers, in woodland or tundra. 7-9 eggs are laid.
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 (= distinctive wing patch) . 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.
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Ducks generally feed on larvae and pupae usually found under rocks, aquatic animals, plant material, seeds, small fish, snails and crabs.
Feeding Ducks ...
We all enjoy ducks and many of us offer them food to encourage them to come over and stay around - and it works! Who doesn't like an easy meal!
However, the foods that we traditionally feed them at local ponds are utterly unsuitable for them and are likely to cause health problems down the road. Also, there may be local laws against feeding this species of bird - so it's best to check on that rather than facing consequences at a later stage.
Please note that feeding ducks and geese makes them dependent on humans for food, which can result in starvation and possibly death when those feedings stop. If you decide to feed them, please limit the quantity to make sure that they maintain their natural ability to forage for food themselves - providing, of course, that natural food sources are available.
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