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Abert’s Towhee Acadian Flycatcher Acorn Woodpecker Alder Flycatcher Allen’s Hummingbird Altamira Oriole American Avocet American Bittern American Black Duck American Coot American Crow American Dipper American Golden-Plover American Goldfinch American Kestrel American Oystercatcher American Pipit American Redstart American Robin American Three-toed Woodpecker American Tree Sparrows American White Pelican American Wigeon American Woodcock Anhinga Anna’s Hummingbird Arctic Tern Arizona Woodpecker Ash-Throated Flycatcher Atlantic Puffin Audubon’s Oriole Bachman’s Sparrow Baird’s Sandpiper Baird’s Sparrow Bald Eagle Baltimore Oriole Band-tailed Pigeon Bank Swallow Barn Owl Barn Swallow Barred Owl Barrow’s Goldeneye Bay-breasted Warbler Bell’s Vireo Belted Kingfisher Bendire’s Thrasher Bewick’s Wren Black Guillemot Black Oystercatcher Black Phoebe Black Rail Black Rosy-Finch Black Scoter Black Skimmer Black Swift Black Tern Black Turnstone Black Vulture Black-and-white Warbler Black-backed Woodpecker Black-bellied Plover Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Black-billed Cuckoo Black-billed Magpie Black-capped Chickadee Black-capped Vireo Black-chinned Hummingbird Black-chinned Sparrow Black-crested Titmouse Black-crowned Night-Heron Black-footed Albatross Black-headed Grosbeak Black-legged Kittiwake Black-necked Stilt Black-throated Blue Warbler Black-throated Gray Warbler Black-throated Green Warbler Black-throated Sparrow Blackburnian Warbler Blackpoll Warbler Blue Grosbeak Blue Jay Blue-footed Booby Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Blue-headed Vireo Blue-throated Hummingbird Blue-winged Teal Blue-winged Warbler Boat-tailed Grackle Bobolink Bohemian Waxwing Bonaparte’s Gull Boreal Chickadee Boreal Owl Botteri’s Sparrow Brandt’s Cormorant Brant Brewer’s Blackbird Brewer’s Sparrow Bridled Titmouse Broad-billed Hummingbird Broad-tailed Hummingbird Broad-winged Hawk Bronzed Cowbird Brown Booby Brown Creeper Brown Pelican Brown Thrasher Brown-capped Rosy-Finch Brown-headed Cowbird Brown-headed Nuthatch Buff-bellied Hummingbird Buff-breasted Flycatcher Buff-breasted Sandpiper Bufflehead Bullock’s Oriole Burrowing Owl Bushtit Cackling Goose Cactus Wren California Condor California Gull California Quail California Thrasher California Towhee Calliope Hummingbird Canada Goose Canada Jay (Previously Gray Jay) Canada Warbler Canvasback Canyon Towhee Canyon Wren Cape May Warbler Carolina Chickadee Carolina Wren Caspian Tern Cassin’s Auklet Cassin’s Finch Cassin’s Kingbird Cassin’s Sparrow Cassin’s Vireo Cattle Egret Cave Swallow Cedar Waxwing Cerulean Warbler Chestnut-backed Chickadee Chestnut-collared Longspur Chestnut-sided Warbler Chihuahuan Raven Chimney Swift Chipping Sparrow Chuck-will’s-widow Chukar Cinnamon Teal Clapper Rail Clark’s Grebe Clark’s Nutcracker Clay-colored Sparrow Cliff Swallow Colima Warbler Common Eider Common Gallinule Common Goldeneye Common Grackle Common Ground-Dove Common Loon Common Merganser Common Murre Common Nighthawk Common Pauraque Common Poorwill Common Raven Common Redpoll Common Tern Common Yellowthroat Connecticut Warbler Cooper’s Hawk Cordilleran Flycatcher Costa’s Hummingbird Couch’s Kingbird Crescent-chested Warbler Crested Caracara Crissal Thrasher Curve-billed Thrasher Dark-eyed Junco Dickcissel Double-crested Cormorant Dovekie Downy Woodpecker Dunlin Dusky Flycatcher Dusky Grouse Eared Grebe Eastern Bluebird Eastern Kingbird Eastern Meadowlark Eastern Phoebe Eastern Screech-Owl Eastern Towhee Eastern Whip-poor-will Eastern Wood-Pewee Elegant Tern Elf Owl Emperor Goose Eurasian Collared-Dove Eurasian Tree Sparrow Eurasian Wigeon European Starling Evening Grosbeak Ferruginous Hawk Field Sparrow Fish Crow Flammulated Owl Florida Scrub-Jay Forster’s Tern Fox Sparrow Franklin’s Gull Fulvous Whistling-Duck Gadwall Gambel’s Quail Gila Woodpecker Gilded Flicker Glaucous Gull Glaucous-winged Gull Glossy Ibis Golden Eagle Golden-cheeked Warbler Golden-crowned Kinglet Golden-crowned Sparrow Golden-crowned Warbler Golden-fronted Woodpecker Golden-winged Warbler Grace’s Warbler Grasshopper Sparrow Gray Catbird Gray Flycatcher Gray Kingbird Gray Partridge Gray Vireo Gray-cheeked Thrush Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch Great Black-backed Gull Great Blue Heron Great Cormorant Great Crested Flycatcher Great Egret Great Gray Owl Great Horned Owl Great Kiskadee Great-tailed Grackle Greater Pewee Greater Prairie-Chicken Greater Roadrunner Greater Sage-Grouse Greater Scaup Greater White-fronted Goose Greater Yellowlegs Green Heron Green Jay Green-tailed-towhee Green-winged Teal Groove-billed Ani Gull-billed Tern Gunnison Sage-Grouse Gyrfalcon Hairy Woodpecker Hammond’s Flycatcher Harlequin Duck Harris’s Hawk Harris’s Sparrow Heermann’s Gull Henslow’s Sparrow Hepatic Tanager Hermit Thrush Hermit Warbler Herring Gull Hoary Redpoll Hooded Merganser Hooded Oriole Hooded Warbler Horned Grebe Horned Lark Horned Puffin House Finch House Sparrow House Wren Hudsonian Godwit Hutton’s Vireo Inca Dove Indigo Bunting Ivory-billed Woodpecker Juniper Titmouse Kentucky Warbler Killdeer King Eider King Rail Kirtland’s Warbler Ladder-backed Woodpecker Lapland Longspur Lark Bunting Lark Sparrow Laughing Gull Lawrence’s Goldfinch Lazuli Bunting Le Conte’s Sparrow Le Conte’s Thrasher Least Bittern Least Flycatcher Least Grebe Least Sandpiper Least Tern Lesser Black-backed Gull Lesser Goldfinch Lesser Prairie-Chicken Lesser Scaup Lesser Yellowlegs Lewis’s Woodpecker Limpkin Lincoln’s Sparrow Little Blue Heron Loggerhead Shrike Long-billed Curlew Long-billed Dowitcher Long-eared Owl Long-tailed Duck Louisiana Waterthrush Lucifer Hummingbird Lucy’s Warbler MacGillivray’s Warbler Magnificent Frigatebird Magnificent Hummingbird Magnolia Warbler Mallard Mangrove Cuckoo Marbled Godwit Marsh Wren Masked Duck McCown’s Longspur Merlin Mew Gull Mexican Jay Mississippi Kite Montezuma Quail Mottled Duck Mountain Bluebird Mountain Chickadee Mountain Plover Mountain Quail Mourning Dove Mourning Warbler Mute Swan Nashville Warbler Neotropic Cormorant Northern Bobwhite Northern Cardinal Northern Flicker Northern Fulmar Northern Gannet Northern Goshawk Northern Harrier Northern Hawk Owl Northern Mockingbird Northern Parula Northern Pintail Northern Rough-winged Swallow Northern Saw-whet Owl Northern Shoveler Northern Shrike Northern Waterthrush Northwestern Crow Nuttall’s Woodpecker Oak Titmouse Olive-sided Flycatcher Orange-crowned Warbler Orchard Oriole Osprey Ovenbird Pacific Golden-Plover Pacific Loon Pacific-slope Flycatcher Painted Bunting Painted Redstart Palm Warbler Pectoral Sandpiper Pelagic Cormorant Peregrine Falcon Phainopepla Philadelphia Vireo Pied-billed Grebe Pigeon Guillemot Pileated Woodpecker Pine Grosbeak Pine Siskin Pine Warbler Pinyon Jay Piping Plover Plain Chachalaca Plumbeous Vireo Prairie Falcon Prairie Warbler Prothonotary Warbler Purple Finch Purple Gallinule Purple Martin Purple Sandpiper Pygmy Nuthatch Pyrrhuloxia Razorbill Red Crossbill Red Knot Red Phalarope Red-bellied Woodpecker Red-breasted Merganser Red-breasted Nuthatch Red-breasted Sapsucker Red-cockaded Woodpecker Red-eyed Vireo Red-faced Warbler Red-headed Woodpecker Red-naped Sapsucker Red-necked Grebe Red-necked Phalarope Red-shouldered Hawk Red-tailed Hawk Red-throated Loon Red-winged Blackbird Reddish Egret Redhead Ring-billed Gull Ring-necked Duck Ring-necked Pheasant Rock Pigeon Rock Ptarmigan Rock Sandpiper Rose-breasted Grosbeak Roseate Spoonbill Roseate Tern Ross’s Goose Rough-legged Hawk Royal Tern Ruby-crowned Kinglet Ruby-throated Hummingbird Ruddy Duck Ruddy Turnstone Ruffed Grouse Rufous Hummingbird Rufous-capped Warbler Rufous-winged Sparrow Rusty Blackbird Sabine’s Gull Sage Sparrow Sage Thrasher Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow Sanderling Sandhill Crane Sandwich Tern Savannah Sparrow Say’s Phoebe Scaled Quail Scarlet Tanager Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Scott’s Oriole Seaside Sparrow Sedge Wren Semipalmated Plover Semipalmated Sandpiper Sharp-shinned Hawk Sharp-tailed Grouse Short-billed Dowitcher Short-eared Owl Slate-throated Redstart Smith’s Longspur Smooth-billed Ani Snail Kite Snow Bunting Snow Goose Snowy Egret Snowy Plover Solitary Sandpiper Song Sparrow Sooty Grouse Sora Spotted Owl Spotted Sandpiper Spotted Towhee Sprague’s Pipit Spruce Grouse Steller’s Jay Stilt Sandpiper Summer Tanager Surf Scoter Surfbird Swainson’s Hawk Swainson’s Thrush Swainson’s Warbler Swallow-tailed Kite Swamp Sparrow Tennessee Warbler Thick-billed Murre Townsend’s Solitaire Townsend’s Warbler Tree Swallow Tricolored Heron Tropical Kingbird Trumpeter Swan Tufted Puffin Tufted Titmouse Tundra Swan Turkey Vulture Upland Sandpiper Varied Bunting Varied Thrush Vaux’s Swift Veery Verdin Vermilion Flycatcher Vesper Sparrow Violet-green Swallow Virginia Rail Virginia’s Warbler Warbling Vireo Western Bluebird Western Grebe Western Gull Western Kingbird Western Sandpiper Western Screech-Owl Western Tanager Western Wood-Pewee Western-Meadowlark Whimbrel White Ibis White-breasted Nuthatch White-crowned Pigeon White-crowned Sparrow White-eyed Vireo White-faced Ibis White-headed Woodpecker White-rumped Sandpiper White-tailed Hawk White-tailed Kite White-tailed Ptarmigan White-throated Sparrow White-throated Swift White-tipped Dove White-winged Crossbill White-winged Dove White-winged Scoter Whooping Crane Wild Turkey Willet Williamson’s Sapsucker Willow Flycatcher Willow Ptarmigan Wilson’s Phalarope Wilson’s Plover Wilson’s Snipe Wilson’s Warbler Winter Wren Wood Duck Wood Stork Wood Thrush Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay Worm-eating Warbler Wrentit Yellow Rail Yellow Warbler Yellow-bellied Flycatcher Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Yellow-billed Cuckoo Yellow-billed Magpie Yellow-breasted Chat Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Yellow-headed Blackbird Yellow-rumped Warbler Yellow-throated Vireo Yellow-throated Warbler Zone-tailed Hawk

Sea Ducks generally have a robust body shape and short neck. Most species nest in the far north (Canada and northern Canada and Alaska). We have placed the eiders on their own page but they might also be considered sea ducks.

Sea Ducks

What you should know

1. Scoters, Harlequin Duck and Long-tailed Duck typically winter along coast lines.

2. Goldeneyes and Bufflehead will winter both inland and along coast lines.

3. Harlequin Duck, Long-tailed Duck, Surf Scoter and White-winged Scoter will use their wings to help provide propulsion when underwater. Most other diving ducks use just their feet.

4. Plumages can vary by age and sex.

5. Most adult males are distinctive.

6. Many printed field guides place Harlequin Duck and Long-tailed Duck in the same section as the eiders.  Eiders have a dedicated section in this guide.

Identification challenges: There are several identification challenges in this group.

– Female scoters

– Female Barrow’s and Common Goldeneye.  Males can be difficult but much less so than females.  The two species often interbreed.

Select a species:

Black Scoter     Surf Scoter     White-winged Scoter

Bufflehead     Common Goldeneye     Barrow’s Goldeneye

Harlequin Duck     Long-tailed Duck

Female goldeneyes.

Adult Barrow’s Goldeneye (first image) have yellow to orange bill.  However, first year females have a dark bill with a yellow tip, very similar to female Common Goldeneye.

Compare with the Common Goldeneye – 2nd photo.  Barrow’s has a smaller, stubby looking bill and a high, more vertical forehead.  Can be difficult to discern at a distance.

barrow's goldeneyes

Female Scoters

Black Scoter – Let’s start with the third bird in this set, the female Black Scoter.  It is the easiest of the female scoters to identify.  Pales cheek and neck contrast with the dark crown and back of the neck.  Amount of yellow on the bill variable and often not visible at a distance. First winter males have a similar appearance.

White-winged Scoter – The first image is a female White-winged Scoter.  Relatively easy ID in this photo as the white in the wing is visible.  When the white is not visible it can be difficult to distinguish from a female Surf Scoter.   First winter and adult females are similar, the first winter may be paler overall.  White marks on the face are variable in size and intensity.  The mark at the base of the bill tends to be ocal or circular in shape.  First winter males resemble females but have an orange tip on the bill.
Surf Scoter – The second image is a female Surf Scoter.  Again the pale facial markings are variable in size and intensity.  The mark at the base of the bill tends to take on a vertical shape.  Note the contrast between the dark crown and lighter cheek, similar to the Black Scoter.

While the birds are at least somewhat distinctive in these photographs it can be a different situation in the field.  Distance scoters bobbing up and down in the waves can be very difficult to identify.

female scoters

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