Sunday, 19 May 2013

40. Velvet Scoter (Melanitta fusca)

It was quite hard to find good photos (without violating copyright law) of Velvet Scoters, I guess because they're so often seen floating a few miles out at sea so are not easily photographable. I've picked 2 photos for today's drawing(s), for the purposes of highlighting the key ID features.

Velvet Scoter, ©Jimfbleak, via Wikimedia Commons.
Velvet Scoters, ©ajmatthehiddenhouse, via Flickr Creative Commons.
Velvet Scoter sketches.

In flight the obvious white wing panel is the best way to tell Velvet apart from Common Scoter, this is often visible on swimming birds too. At a distance the white mark under the male's eye is hard to see, but the pale marks on the females' faces are much more obvious, as in the second photo. These patterns can however vary, but are always less obvious than the female Common Scoter's pale cheeks and contrasting dark cap.


  1. Hi Tim,

    Thanks! White-winged Scoter wasn't a species I was particularly aware of previously, I see from doing a quick Google and checking Collins that the main difference between it and Velvet Scoter looks like bill shape and colour? The lack of availability of photos combined with my fairly limited bird knowledge has resulted in my choice of a somewhat unrepresentative photo!

    I see that there have been recent taxonomical changes which I guess explain the overlap in results when I search Google Images for Velvet and White-winged Scoter - also found that the photo I used from Wikimedia Commons is used to illustrate both the Wikipedia articles on Velvet and White-winged Scoter, nice one Wikipedia!

    So I have learnt a bit more about Scoters thanks to your comment, which is the main point of this blog :o)