Scoter, Surf

Bril zee-eend

Scoter, Surf (Melanitta perspicillata)

The Scoter, Surf (Melanitta perspicillata) is a sea duck from the family of water birds that includes ducks, geese, and swans (Anatidae).

Species name

Dutch name:
Bril zee-eend
English name:
Surf scoter
German name:
French name:
Macreuse à front blanc
Scientific name:
Melanitta perspicillata

Scientific classification




The surf scoter is easily distinguishable from other scoters by the white patch on the head of the adult male and its unique bill pattern. Females and immatures have a bulkier bill and a more flattened head profile than other scoters, recalling the shape of the common eider (Somateria mollissima). The black and the white-winged scoters are physically very similar to the surf scoter but in flight, the surf scoter is the only one with completely dark wings.

Like all sea ducks, the surf scoter becomes flightless during the simultaneous molt of its flight feathers. This vulnerable period happens usually in late July through early August and lasts for about four weeks. Before molting the flight feathers, all waterfowl undergo a complete body molt, replacing the bright colors of the basic plumage of males by the duller alternate or eclipse plumage.

The male is completely velvety black except for white patches on the forehead and the nape. It has a swollen bill, appearing orange at a distance but patterned with white, red and yellow, and a black spot near the base. The plumage is a good indicator of the age for male surf scoters, but not for females.

The female is browner than the male, with a fairly uniform plumage, slightly darker above than below. Indistinct paler patches are present on the cheeks below the eye and sometimes a whitish patch is on the nape, a unique trait among scoters. The bill is black with green or blue colorations

The juvenile has a plumage similar to the female, but mainly paler and browner, and the breast and belly are whitish.

Standard Measurements

Body Length (cm):
The male (drake) of the Scoter, Surf measures approximately 48 centimeters. The female measures approximately 44 centimeters.
Body Weight (grams):
The male will weight about 1020-1080 gram. The female will weight about 860-940 gram.
The weight is notoriously variable and can only be used as indication!

Surf scoters are generally winter-hardy and sociable. They are preferably kept on a large area of clean, cold, deep water, at least some of which (preferably half the area) should be more than 60cm and preferably more than1m deep. As with other diving ducks, most species are relatively ungainly on land and ponds should have shallow sloping banks. Some cover along the pond edges will generally be appreciated. Preferred nesting sites vary greatly within this group, from open ground nesting to thick vegetation and tree holes.

These ducks generally need a higher-protein diet than most waterfowl species and high-protein pelleted diets specifically designed for seaducks are now available, although supplementation with fish may still be important particularly for breeding.

Feeding in troughs containing stones may avoid the development of overgrown bills. Provision of salt water may decrease the incidence of fungal and other infections.

Ducklings may be given high-protein starter crumbs and live food, and provided with access to deep water for swimming from an early age.

Surf scoters are rarely kept and have very rarely been bred in captivity. Cold, pure water and a high quality diet are thought to be important in their maintenance. In captive conditions they are prone to respiratory infections and particularly to fungal infections. They can be aggressive.

These ducks are bred in only a few collections. Natural close cover and open cover should be available for nesting. Nest placement and structure: on ground, usually close to water, sometimes more distant, in cover of bushes or under tree, a depression with rim of twigs, grass, leaves and lining of down. Eggs are normally laid May to June. Ducklings have been successfully hand reared.

Hybridisation reported with Common goldeneye (Bucephala clangula); wild hybrid reported with Common goldeneye (Bucephala clangula).

The female Scoter, Surf usually lays from 5-9 white to yellowish eggs and incubates them for 28-30 days.

Artificial incubating:

The ideal relative humidity for incubating most waterfowl eggs is 55% (ground nesters) and 40% (cavity nesters). The temperature is usually 37.4°C. Set ventilation as recommended by the incubator manufacturer. Eggs must be turned, either automatically or by hand, a minimum of 4 times a day. As the duckling develops there is a loss of water from the egg and the air sac gets bigger. In normal development of an egg with a 28-30 days incubation, the air sac occupies about a third of it three days earlier. Cleanliness is vital and ideally eggs should be moved to a separate hatcher at this point, where the humidity should be increased to 65% and even higher once they have pipped internally.

Bird banding:
Recommended closed leg band ring size for the Scoter, Surf is 11 mm.
The leg band ring can only be applied on a young sea duck at around 12-14 days old.

It doesn't matter what leg that you band, but it's good to have a consistent system.
Suggested: Left leg = Female, Right leg = Male
Lundi Micro 45
Lundi Micro 45
Lundi Micro 45
Lundi Micro 45

The best floatable special rearing feed from Lundi. This ideally balanced complete feed with 42% protein forms the perfect basis for the successful rearing of your ducks. The ducks grow well and have their perfect juvenile plumage after a short time.
Made exclusively from wholesome and selected raw materials, Lundi Micro 45 is also ideally suited for year-round feeding of waterfowl.

Maintenance food:
Lundi Exquisit
Lundi Exquisit
Lundi Exquisit
Lundi Exquisit
Lundi Exquisit
Lundi Exquisit
Lundi Exquisit

Floatable special complete food for sea birds with the highest nutritional requirements. Each chunk contains the complete nutrient spectrum. The high protein content of 35% ensures a healthy and species-appropriate diet. Spiral algae give a more magnificent coloration of plumage and sea salt promotes the salt gland.

Lundi Ibis See-Ente special
Lundi Ibis See-Ente special
Lundi Ibis See-Ente special
Lundi Ibis See-Ente special

Floating special complete food for sea birds with the highest nutritional requirements thanks to a particularly high protein content of 45%.

Ideal for daily feeding in animals that eat a lot of protein in their natural habitat. A must for "fish eaters".

Europese soort

Het is niet verboden om deze vogels te houden die van nature in Nederland voorkomen, op voorwaarde dat deze vogels in gevangenschap zijn geboren; nakweek dus. Deze vogels zijn voorzien van een gesloten pootring. Het is wel verboden om deze vogels te houden die in het wild gevangen zijn. Alleen bepaalde instanties, zoals vogelasiels en vogelhospitalen, zijn bevoegd om jonge en gewonde wilde vogels te houden. Deze bescherming van vogels wordt vormgegeven door schadelijke handelingen te verbieden zoals:het doden, verwonden, vangen, bemachtigen en met het oog daarop opsporen van vogels (art. 9 Flora- en faunawet); het opzettelijk verontrusten van vogels (art. 10 Flora- en faunawet);het beschadigen, vernielen, uithalen, wegnemen en verstoren van nesten, holen of andere voortplantings- of vaste rust- of verblijfplaatsen van vogels (art. 11 Flora- en faunawet);en het zoeken, rapen, uit het nest nemen, beschadigen of vernielen van eieren van vogels (art. 12 Flora- en faunawet).

Photos of the Scoter, Surf

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