Melanitta nigra | Common Scoter | Scótar



Conservation status

This species is Red-listed according to Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland 2020-2026 and is of high conservation value as a result.

According to the last IUCN Red List assessment in 2018, the Common Scoter is a species of ‘Least Concern’ on a global scale. However, an unknown global population trend was noted, meaning data deficiency may be impacting the integrity of this assessment.

Species Biology


The Common Scoter is a medium-sized sea duck that stands at 44-54 cm in length, with a wingspan of 79-90 cm and a weight ranging from 650-1,300 grams.

Males of this species can be identified by their all black colouration with the exception of a yellow knob at the base of the bill.

The female is brown in colour and has pale whitish cheeks.


The Common Scoter is omnivorous but feeds primarily on animal material such as insect larvae, crustaceans, molluscs and fish eggs. Plant material such as aquatic plants may also be taken. 


Suitable feeding habitat includes shallower waters with sandy substrate.

Suitable breeding habitat includes islands that provide adequate scrub and tree cover.


During the breeding season, this species lays a clutch of 6-8 eggs, each weighing approximately 72 grams, and will incubate these eggs for a period of 30-31 days.

The young fledge after 45-50 days.

A typical wild Common Scoter will live for around six years, with breeding occurring at two years.

Threats faced

Numbers are in decline due to predators such as the highly invasive American Mink.


World distribution(GBIF)

Irish distribution

The Common Scoter is a resident in Ireland but numbers are bolstered when winter visitors arrive from Europe.

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2022

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