The tucked-away sleeping bird that I thought might be an adult male Surf Scoter (in my post of a few days ago) was awake and active Wednesday afternoon and validated my hunch. It has the white forehead patch and the back-of-the-neck patch (barely visible here) that mark it as an adult. No other bird has a beak like this!
The female was also still present and rose up briefly to flap her wings.
On Friday, no Surf Scoter was in sight.
The Cornell bird lab website has these “Cool Facts” about Surf Scoters:
- The Surf Scoter breeds on freshwater lakes, where the male defends a moving area around the female. The female with a brood is not territorial.
- Accidental exchanges of young among Surf Scoter broods are frequent on crowded lakes. Because the mother provides no parental care other than guarding the chicks, evolutionary selection to prevent such mixups may not be very strong.
- Nonbreeding Surf Scoters (mainly immatures) do not necessarily go to the breeding grounds in summer. Instead they spend the summer primarily along marine coasts southward to Baja California and New Jersey, where they frequent bays and estuaries.
- The oldest recorded Surf Scoter was a male, and at least 11 years, 7 months old when he was found in Maryland in 2015. He had been banded in the Newfoundland/Labrador area in 2004.