White-winged scoters like this one breed around lakes from Central Canada into Alaska, and spend their winters along the Atlantic and Pacific coast, with some hanging around the Great Lakes all Winter long. That bill looks big and lunky for a duck, doesn't it?
That's because scoters are adapted to eat bivalves like clams and mussels. You may be thinking, but clams and mussels live all the way at the bottom of water bodies! That's right! Scoters are powerful swimmers, capable of swimming underwater 60 feet or more below the surface! They'll use their wings and tail as well as their feet when moving about underwater. Swimming is kind of like aquatic flying right? Similar motion, less available oxygen!
I very much enjoyed the gift of watching the white-winged scoter at this stop-over point in it's Fall migration. He/She will likely travel all the way to the East Coast, perhaps to Cape May Point, the Delaware Bay area, or even as far south as Jekyll Island in Georgia.
When walking the river trail or adjacent to any body of water this time of year, keep a look out and you may be so fortunate as to see a scoter too!