English and Scientific names:

White-winged Scoter  (Melanitta fusca deglandi)

Number of individuals: 

2 (1 first-spring male, 1 adult female)

Locality: LOUISIANA: 


Specific Locality:

Gulf off LA-27/82, ca. 3.0 mi. W of Calcasieu Pass, Cameron

Date(s) when observed:

4 May 2008

Time(s) of day when observed:  

Justin Bosler

Lancaster, PA  17601

Reporting observer and address:

Devin Bosler

Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s):

A single White-winged Scoter (WWSC) was reported by a few other observers; sex of reported bird was not widely disclosed.

Other observers who independently identified the bird(s)


Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):

Excellent light conditions with sun nearly directly overhead in clear to partly cloudy sky.  Wave action and heat haze made obtaining photos of male nearly impossible.

Optical equipment: 

Zeiss Victory FL 8x42 binocular (good condition) and Nikon Fieldscope 60ED w/ 45x optical zoom (fair condition)

Distance to bird(s): 

~75 meters to female, ~150 meters to male

Duration of observation:

~60 minutes


nearshore Gulf of Mexico

Behavior of bird: 

Adult female was actively diving/foraging ~0.5 mi. W of the small mixed-species raft of scoters and Lesser Scaups, which contained the first-spring male WWSC.  Shortly after our arrival on the beach, she began swimming E at a fair clip to join up with the mixed-species raft.  The male was noticed for the first time when the female reached the raft.  Both male and female continued foraging and preening over the remainder of the observation.


In regard to male: very large, blackish-brown sea duck with large, wedge-shaped head, and gently sloping forehead merging with longish, triangular bill with feathered “snout”.  White comma mark sweeping up behind eye on blackish-brown head.  Bill with orangish tip and black bulbous hump at base of culmen.  Darker upperparts and breast contrasted with paler sides and flanks.  Underparts entirely dark brown.  Relatively long, stiff tail held upright at all times.  White secondaries obvious on outstretched wing, but less so on folded wing.  However, becoming slightly more noticeable when pitching/rolling to preen underparts.  A poorly-defined small, rounded pale patch on center-rear of head was suggestive of a first-spring male.  In regard to female:  very large, dark brown sea duck with large wedge-shaped head, and gently sloping forehead merging with longish, triangular bill.  Two, indistinct pale patches obvious on each side of the head; one near bill base and one behind eye.  Wholly black bill flattening distally.  Underparts wholly dark brown as on upperparts.  White secondaries obvious while at rest, but especially while preening (as in male above).  Also, relatively long, stiff tail held upright while preening and flattened between dives. 


No voice heard.

Similar species:

In regard to male:  massive, wholly dark sea duck eliminates all other regularly occurring dabblers and divers, barring Black Scoter (BLSC) and Surf Scoter (SUSC).  Bill shape (flattening distally), structure (black bulbous hump at base of culmen), and color (mostly black with orange only at tip) along with head pattern (bold, white eye crescents) and white secondaries eliminate other 2 species of scoter.  In regard to female:  massive, wholly dark sea duck eliminates all other regularly occurring dabblers and divers, barring BLSC and SUSC.  Female BLSC eliminated by head and neck pattern (indistinct pale patches on head), bill shape and structure (more triangular and flattening distally),  and white secondaries.  Female SUSC also separated by the aforementioned features, and most solidly by white secondaries. 

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

Photos obtained by Justin Bosler, and attached.

Previous experience with this species: 

Years of experience with this species along the Eastern seaboard from NJ to ME.  In addition to a few individuals on the West Coast and at least two prior sightings in LA; 1 at Lake Pontchartrain, New Orleans (Orleans) on 7 Feb 2007 and 1 at Broussard Beach (Cameron) on 13 Apr 2008.

Identification aids:


This description is written from: 

notes made during the observation and memory.

Are you positive of your identification? If not, explain: 


Yes, 100% positive.


Justin Bosler   


Date and time: 

15 August 2008  

12:00 AM EDT