Common Scoter

Melanitta nigra

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Known in German as Trauerente (literally: "mourning duck"), the epithet derives from the drake's monochrome black plumage. They also have a yellow or orange patch around the nostrils. The females are dark brown with a light grey head and pale cheeks. The plumage is brownish in both sexes, with a darker head in the male. Potential confusion arises in the case of the slightly larger velvet scoter. The latter, however, has a clearly visible white crescent under the eye and white speculum feathers. During the breeding season, the male emits cooing, partly flute-like and giggling calls. As typical sea ducks, they only go ashore during the breeding season. Their breeding grounds are in northern Eurasia from Iceland via the British Isles and Scandinavia to Siberia. They breed on gently flowing waters, but also on marshland, forest edges and in the tundra. The gregarious common scoter is a frequent migrant and winter visitor, and outside the breeding season, it travels in larger groups up to the size of a flock. They also hunt in smaller groups. They subsist chiefly on mussels and snails, annelids, crustaceans and insects. As a sea duck, the common scoter is particularly threatened by marine pollution and intensive fishing. Anthropogenic overexploitation of natural shellfish stocks and gillnet fishing are critical for the birds. The population of the common scoter is not endangered. Nevertheless, it is classified in Germany as a Species of Responsibility within the Federal Government's National Strategy on Biological Diversity. The Federal Hunting Act (BJagdG) allows hunting from 1 October to 15 January.

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