Status: Rare casual spring migrant statewide. Uncommon regular fall migrant statewide. Rare casual winter visitor.
Documentation: Specimen: SUI 18764, 14 Oct 1903 Crystal Lake, South Sioux City, Dakota Co.
Taxonomy: Three subspecies have generally been recognized (for example, Clements et al 2016): M. f. fusca, Velvet (European) Scoter, M. f. stejnegeri, Asiatic White-winged Scoter, and M. f. deglandi American White-winged Scoter. Some authors (Sangster et al 2005), treat these as two species, Velvet Scoter M. fusca, and White-winged Scoter M. deglandi, the latter with two subspecies, M. d. stejnegeri of central and eastern Siberia, (eBird.org) and M. d. deglandi of Alaska and northern Canada. It has further been suggested that all three taxa deserve species status (Garner et al 2004), and this position was taken by Chesser et al (2018), and Avibase (https://avibase.ca/4800D6B6) and is followed here.
Nebraska birds are presumed deglandi.
Spring: Mar 25, 26, 26 <<<>>> May 1, 4, 5
This scoter appears much more often in spring than the others, with 33 reports. There are earlier dates than those above: 14 Feb 1916 Clay Co (cited above), 15-27 Feb 2020 Grand Island, Hall Co, 24 Feb 2002 Holmes Lake, Lincoln, Lancaster Co, 4-9 Mar 2007 Gavin’s Point Dam, Cedar Co, 10-17 Mar 2012 Lake Ogallala, Keith Co, 14 Mar 1981 Washington Co, and 19 Mar 2007 Lakes North and Babcock, Platte Co.
Later dates are 15 May 1993 Wayne Co (eBird.org), 13-28 May 2021 Summit Lake, Burt Co (eBird.org), and 2 Jun 2021 immature Crescent Lake NWR, Garden Co (eBird.org).
Fall: Oct 13, 14, 15 <<<>>> Dec 19, 19 ,20
There are earlier reports 2 Oct 2020 female/immature Sutherland Reservoir, Lincoln Co and 7-20 Oct 1965 Adams Co, and several later reports: one was on the DeSoto NWR CBC 23 Dec 2007, first winter birds were at Lake McConaughy, Keith Co 31 Dec 2004, a juvenile male was at Lake McConaughy 31 Dec 2011, a female was there 31 Dec 2016-2 Jan 2017, one was at Lake McConaughy 2 Jan 2021, a single was at Gavin’s Point Dam 3-8 Jan 2005, one at Lake Ogallala 29 Dec 2016-8 Jan 2018, and 1-2, including an adult female and a juvenile male were at Lake Ogallala 1-8 Jan 2011 and one was at Gavin’s Point Dam 11 Jan 2009.
In addition to these reports is a specimen taken 18 Dec 1900 near Kearney (HMM 2531; Brooking, Notes).
White-winged Scoters are more common in Nebraska than the other scoter species in fall as well as in spring. Since the 1990s, colonization of Lake Michigan by zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) has caused a significant increase in use of the lake by this species (Baldassarre 2014).
- High counts: 10 in Lancaster Co 2 Nov 1986, 8 on Lewis and Clark Lake, Knox Co 30 Oct 2021, 7 in Lancaster Co 18-31 Oct 1984, 7 at Summit Lake, Burt Co 12 Nov 2017, and 7 at Kramper Lake, Dakota Co 3 Nov 2021.
Winter: There are three mid-winter records, one of over-wintering. Two, a male and a female, wintered at Lake Ogallala 2015-2016. Tout (1947) saw a flock of seven on the North Platte River near North Platte 14 Jan 1926. A single bird was at Lake Ogallala 13 Jan-28 May 1985 (Rosche 1994); the date of its final occurrence has been incorrectly reported as 25-28 Jun 1985 (Loren and Babs Padelford, pers. comm., Cortelyou 1985).
There is a relatively small wintering population on the Great Lakes (Baldassarre 2014).
CBC: Christmas Bird Count
HMM: Hastings Municipal Museum
NWR: National Wildlife Refuge
SUI: University of Iowa Museum of Natural History
Baldassarre, G. 2014. Ducks, geese, and swans of North America. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
Chesser, R.T., K.J. Burns, C. Cicero, J.L. Dunn, A.W. Kratter, I.J. Lovette, P.C. Rasmussen, J.V. Remsen, Jr., D.F. Stotz, B.M. Winger, and K. Winker. 2018. Fifty-ninth Supplement to the American Ornithological Society’s Check-list of North American Birds. Auk 135: 798-813. https://doi.org/10.1642/AUK-18-62.1
Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2016. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2016, accessed 30 January 2018.
Cortelyou, R.G. 1985. 1985 (Sixtieth) Spring Occurrence Report. NBR 53: 50-66.
Garner, M., I. Lewington, and G. Rosenberg. 2004. Stejneger’s Scoter in the Western Palearctic and North America. Birding World 17: 337-347.
Gill, F. D. Donsker, and P. Rasmussen (Eds). 2021. IOC World Bird List (v 11.2). Doi 10.14344/IOC.ML.11.2. http://www.worldbirdnames.org/
Rosche, R.C. 1994. Birds of the Lake McConaughy area and the North Platte River valley, Nebraska. Published by the author, Chadron, Nebraska, USA.
Sangster, G., J.M. Collinson, A.J. Helbig, A.G. Knox, and D.T. Parkin. 2005. Taxonomic recommendations for British birds: third report. Ibis: 147: 821–826.
Silcock, W.R., and J.G. Jorgensen. 2022. White-winged Scoter (Melanitta fusca). In Birds of Nebraska — Online. www.BirdsofNebraska.org
Birds of Nebraska – Online
Updated 30 Nov 2022