The Black or American Scoter (Melanitta americana) is a species of sea duck found in the far north of North America in Labrador and Newfoundland to the southeast Hudson bay, in Alaska. It is also found on the Siberian side of the Bering Straits east of the Yana River. It migrates further south for the winter months along the coasts of the USA and Canada, and as far south as the Gulf of Mexico. It also winters in Asia as far south as China.
Adult black scoters are 17 to 19.25 inches in length and weigh between 33 and 38.5 ounces, males being slightly larger than females. The male is all black with a very bulbous bill which is mostly yellow. The female is mostly brown with pale cheeks, similar in appearance to the Common Scoter. The Black Scoter is the only black duck in America. There may be a silvery appearance on the underside of the bird when in flight. It can be distinguished easily from other scoters, apart from the Common, by the lack of white on the male duck, and the extensive pale areas on the female.
The Black Scoter dives for its food which consists of crustaceans and mollusks while wintering in the coastal regions, and feeds on insects, fish eggs, and some vegetation (mostly duckweed) while nesting in its freshwater habitat. In its winter habitat, it forms large flocks along suitable coastal waters, where they are tightly packed, and tend to take flight together. They are less social in the breeding season.
The lined nest is built on the ground close to the water and in woodland tundra. The female lays 5 to 7 eggs that weigh between 2 and 2.6 ounces. The eggs are incubated for 27 to 31 days. Females brood the young extensively for about 21 days, after which the still flightless young must fend for themselves.