A rare young female Surf Scoter visited Powell Gardens yesterday! The Surf Scoter is a diving duck that nests in the boreal forest of the North America, Europe and Asia. It is a rare migrant in the Midwest (outside the Great Lakes) and to see a lone first year female like this one is an identification challenge as she is rarely depicted in field guides.
Linda Williams of Liberty, Mo., came out and took this good photograph of our bird. Surf Scoters are in severe decline, probably from acid rain and global warming as they nest under spruce trees near remote, far northern lakeshores. They can be regularly seen in rafts off the East or West Coast in winter where they dive for shellfish. They have been reported to eat good quantities of invasive, exotic zebra mussels in the Great Lakes. Powell Gardens’ bird went on long dives – we have lots of clams in the bottom of our lake. Unfortunately our bird stayed only from dawn to dusk on Friday, November 30, but she will be added to the Powell Gardens bird checklist as a rare migrant.