English and Scientific names:

White-winged Scoter (Melanitta fusca)

Number of individuals: 

One adult male in alternate plumage

Locality: LOUISIANA: 


Specific Locality:

Lake Pontchartrain off of Hayne Blvd. near intersection of Scottwood and Briarwood Dr in Little Woods.

Date(s) when observed:

7 February 2007

Time(s) of day when observed:  

Between 1320 and 1345 hours.

Reporting observer and address:

Justin Bosler
Baton Rouge, LA

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

Devin Bosler

Other observers who independently identified the bird(s)


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

Lighting conditions were excellent with the sun directly overhead during the entire observation.

Optical equipment: 

Nikon Venturer LX 8x32, Nikon Fieldscope w/ 45x zoom eyepiece, and Nikon Monarch 8x42

Distance to bird(s): 

Approximately 150 to 200 meters.

Duration of observation:

A total of 25 minutes.


Surface freshwater on Lake Pontchartrain -maybe slightly saline at this site.

Behavior of bird: 

The scoter was diving frequently with intermittent resting periods on the surface. It was loosely associated with a large concentration of Lesser Scaup and nearby Surf Scoters. The scoter was initially located while scanning the surface water for additional scoters, other waterfowl species, and counting LESC.


A large, blackish scoter with a thick neck, large sloping head, and angular bill. Immediately visible was the white subocular patch, also referred as a white comma; the bulbous, black knob on a yellow-orange upper mandible, and a thin sliver of white visible on the distal portion of the folded wing. Eye coloration appeared to be off-white or very pale yellow. Within minutes I was afforded excellent views of the white secondaries on the out-stretched wings as the scoter stretched its wings upon surfacing from a dive.


Voice was not heard.

Similar species:

Black and Surf Scoter were eliminated by secondary coloration, bill structure and color, and other plumage characteristics. Both of these species have dark secondaries and relatively unmarked faces in adult male plumage. Black Scoter has a completely black head, while the Surf Scoter sports white patches on the forecrown and nape.  Bill knobs are completely different in all three species, as well as bill coloration. Pure white secondaries were the obvious feature for separation and elimination.

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

Digiscoped photographs were obtained by Justin Bosler.

Previous experience with this species: 

Extensive experience on Atlantic seaboard from Maine to New Jersey waters and one encounter with several individuals on the Washington coast near Ocean Shores.

Identification aids:

No identification aids were used at time of observation.
No identification aids used following the observation.

This description is written from: 

Written from brief notes during observation and memory.

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


Yes, I am 100% positive of my identification.


Justin Bosler

Date and time: 

15 February 2006; 12:17 AM.