Bird of the Day: Surf Scoter on the Siuslaw River in Oregon
I spent some of the holidays at the mouth of the Siuslaw River along the central Oregon coast at Florence. The Siuslaw is a modest river by Oregon standards, especially in the upper reaches, but at the mouth it is a tidal channel several hundred feet across. I take walks along the shoreline whenever I can, and there are usually some interesting birds about (see the last post, for instance). Today's birds are Surf Scoters (Melanitta perspicillata), large ducks who inhabit coastal environments on both the east and west coasts of North America.
The males have some bold coloring on their heads that has earned them the informal name of "Skunk-headed Coot". The females, as can be seen in the photos above and below, are a bit more drab. They breed in the arctic, and migrate along the coast during the winter, as far south as Baja.