Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2006-14b(R82)
(Transcribed by M. G. Moody)

Common name:

Black Scoter

Scientific name: Melanitta nigra
Date: 13-14 Nov '82
Time: midday
Length of time observed: 30+ min. total
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Sex: Female
Location: W. end of Antelope Is. causeway, fresh water side
Distance to bird: 15 m.
Optical equipment: Questar 80 x  (Minolta XG-7 / Soligor 400mm lens - [photo was "available" but  not submitted])
Weather: clear cold and very windy 20-30 mph 1st day of sighting - subsequent days clear & calm.
Prior weather & number of days since change: weather front came through the evening previous to the sighting
Light Conditions: Good - but slightly backlighted in some views
Description:        Size of bird:  
(Description:)       Basic Shape:  
(Description:)  Overall Pattern:  
(Description:)            Bill Type:  
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Large, blackish duck with black bill & silvery cheek patch.  The cheek patch covered an area from just below the supercilliary area, extended through the cheek and face and ended below the malar region and on face.  The bill was black and the remainder of the plumage was dark brownish black.  The tail region sloped into the water (rather than sticking up as Ruddy Duck or puddle duck style).   In flight, there was no white on the dorsal surface of the wings.  The flight was quite heavy and labored compared to that of other ducks in the area.  Head large and rounded.  It was further noted that neither leg had a band and that both hind toes were intact.  In addition, the bird was skittish - all indicating a wild rather than escaped individual.
Song or call & method of delivery:  
Behavior: Seen diving on occasion.  In flight, it tended to take off parallel to the water surface and stayed low to the water in flight.  (this is typical of sea ducks ie scoters, eiders, etc.)
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Ruddy Duck:  Much smaller and browner; does not have a black bill and the cheek patch of males is white or pale brownish--white not silvery.  Overall shape different including less rounded head and large bill relative to head and body than a acoter and entire body shape different.  Flight much lighter; wing-beat very rapid.

Gadwall;  Much paler colored, white wing pattern and tail side pattern - different body shape

Other Scoter:  Surf - female has 2 small white spots on face, not cheek patch
     White-winged - white wing patch

Eiders: Female King - more uniformly colored, brownish; lacks distinct cheek patch
           Female Common, Steller's, Spectacled - different beak shapes from a scoter

Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I've had prolonged, extensive experience with scoters, especially Black and Surf.  I usually see several thousand of each (or more) annually.
References consulted:  
Description from: Notes made later from memory
Observer: Michael Tove
Observer's address: Dept. Biol., USU, Logan UT  84322
Observer's e-mail address:  
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Alan Gronon, Ella Sorenson, Mark Bromley, Merrill Webb, others
Date prepared: [received 10 Dec 1982]
Additional material:  
Additional comments: