“Hump-nosed” Scoter-one to look for in CT!

The recent scoter/scaup flock that lingered off Stratford earlier in the winter held several nice White-winged Scoters (deglandi). Being from the old country, I often sift through any close male birds in hope of unearthing the European race/species, known as Velvet Scoter (are there any NE records??). However, my little peepers are also on alert  for a third race/taxon that might be lurking in their midst..Stejneger’s Scoter. Huh??!! Say what??????

Take a look at my pal, Martin Garner’s site:
http://birdingfrontiers.com/2011/03/09/stejnegers-and-white-winged-scoters/

The siberian race of our more familiar White-winged Scoter is stejnegeri and males can be separated from other races on bill, bill color and head shape (see link above). It thas been recorded in Alaska (naturally) but now there is currently a male in southern Ireland and one in Denmark, despite the fact that the Nearctic race, deglandi is more likely to occur in Europe. The species may eventually be split. The Irish bird (first for Ireland) found by visiting British birder Josh Jones (kudos to him)  is at:
http://www.irishbirdimages.com/pages/gallery/march2011page2.html

Note the bill protrusion obvious on this Stejneger’s. Obviously close views are essential and females are likely almost impossible under typical field conditions, but males of the European and Siberian race can be separated from deglandi White-winged Scoters. The Irish and Danish birds were returning birds and had been present as “Velvet Scoters” for over a year.

This is one bird that we should all look for when looking at close flocks of White-winged Scoters.

Good hunting!

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