Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2004-38

Common name:

Black Scoter

Scientific name: Melanitta nigra
Date: 11-06-04
Time: 1530-1600 hrs
Length of time observed: 30 min.
Number: 1
Age: Immature
Sex: Female
Location: Sand Hollow State Park
County: Washington
Latilong: 19
Elevation: ~ 900 m
Distance to bird: ~ 50 m
Optical equipment: Zeiss 85 T Diascope (photographed through scope with Olympus Camedia camera)
Weather: Clear and sunny
Light Conditions: Full Sun
Detailed description of bird: Medium to large duck with a round head; dark eye; and a pale cheek patch extending from top of bill back just below the eye and down to upper neck. Long, thin, black bill with slight down-turned tip. Crown of head, back, and wings were a uniform dark chocolate brown.
(See photos)
Song or call & method of delivery:  
Behavior: Actively diving below West Dike of Sand Hollow Reservoir. Observed "jumping" forward each time it dove.
Habitat: Open water of reservoir
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Non-breeding adult male Ruddy Duck is the most similar. However Ruddy Duck was eliminated by its smaller size, head and bill proportion, and lighter overall coloration than Black Scoter. Also the head of non-breeding male Ruddys is darker than the back coloration (and not noticeably different on Black Scoters).
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I've only seen a few Black Scoters recently (female 12/03 in Penn), however years ago I was very familiar with them, observing them regularly on both coasts.
References consulted: NG second edition.
Description from: From memory
Observer: Rick Fridell and Larry Tripp
Observer's address: 3505 West 290 North, Hurricane UT, 84737
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Larry Tripp
Date prepared: 11-06-04    (General Public)
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: The Black Scoter was solitary (although there were several large waterfowl flocks on the reservoir, including Ruddy Ducks, Lesser Scaup, Redhead, etc.)