Friday, February 12, 2016

What a snout- the rare Surf Scoter visits from the Arctic


This male surf scoter has been seen on a regular basis hanging out with lesser scaup ducks in a salt water pond on Gasparilla Island.  Surf scoters are a sea duck which breeds in boreal forests and the arctic tundra near freshwater lakes, but spends the winters mainly along the east and west coasts of N America.  They are rarely seen in Charlotte County, FL, so this male is causing some excitement among the local birders.  The bizarre bill is much more colorful in the male and its strange shape seems designed to assist in eating hard shelled prey such as mussels, clams and crustaceans.  As their name indicates, surf scoters often dive for food in the zone of crashing waves along the shore.

Bill Dunson

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