Velvet Scoter

Irish Name: Sceadach
Scientific name: Mellanitta fusca
Bird Family: Ducks
Conservation status


A rare winter visitor to coastal areas from October to March with flocks of Common Scoter.


Very similar to Common Scoter and care is needed to distinguish between the two species. Velvet Scoter is slightly larger than Common Scoter and is most easily identified in all plumages by the large white patch on the wing. Adult male Velvet Scoters have a different bill pattern (yellow band) than Common Scoter, as well as having a small white patch below the eye. Adult females appear almost all dark except for a small white spot behind the eye. Juvenile Velvet Scoter are virtually indistuingashable from adult females.


Generally silent when seen in Ireland.


Like other Scoter species, dives for shellfish and crustaceans.


Does not breed in Ireland. There is a very small breeding population in northern Scotland, but the majority of the European population breeds in Scandinavia


A rare winter visitor to all Irish coasts, usually associating with Common Scoters. The main wintering grounds lie in the southern Baltic and eastern North Sea.

Monitored by

Irish Wetland Bird Survey, NEWS and BirdTrack.

Similar Species

Common Scoter

Irish Name:
Scientific name:
Melanitta nigra
Bird Family:

Surf Scoter

Irish Name:
Scótar toinne
Scientific name:
Mellanitta perspicillata
Bird Family: