White-winged Scoter
(Melanitta fusca)


Picture of bird
© Jukka Jantunen
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

Less is known about Scoters than about any other group of sea ducks, but of the three species that breed in Canada, the White-winged Scoter is the best known. It breeds primarily in Alaska and in the Boreal forest of central and northwestern Canada from Yukon to Manitoba, and at lower densities in the Canadian Prairies. The species winters on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Because Scoters are difficult to distinguish during aerial surveys counts data for the three species of Scoters are combined, therefore accurate population estimates and population trends specific to White-winged scoters are not available. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Listing of the main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least Concern2013 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2010 
North American Waterfowl Management PlanNo Designation2012 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic areaStatusReliability
CanadaData DeficientData Deficient

Population estimate

CanadaNot yet available

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation of world population


Conservation and management

Oil spills and other toxic substances in White-winged Scoter moulting or wintering grounds may harm the species. White-winged Scoters are among the most vulnerable seabirds to oil spills because the species is often present in high densities along oil transportation routes. The White-winged Scoter may accumulate a number of contaminants in its flesh, making it potentially vulnerable to poisoning (Brown and Fredrickson 1995). In Canada, the annual harvest for White-winged Scoters is estimated at a few thousand individuals.


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Boreal Hardwood TransitionBoreal Hardwood Transition, sub-region and priority type: Ontario Region
Boreal Softwood ShieldBoreal Softwood Shield, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern Region
Boreal Taiga PlainsBoreal Taiga Plains, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern Region
Gulf of St. LawrenceGulf of St. Lawrence, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic Region - Prince Edward Island
Newfoundland and Labrador Shelves Newfoundland and Labrador Shelves , sub-region and priority type: Atlantic Region - Newfoundland and Labrador
Northern Pacific RainforestNorthern Pacific Rainforest, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon Region
Northern RockiesNorthern Rockies, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon Region
Northwestern Interior ForestNorthwestern Interior Forest, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon Region
Prairie PotholesPrairie Potholes, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern Region
Scotian ShelfScotian Shelf, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic Region - Nova Scotia
Taiga Shield and Hudson PlainsTaiga Shield and Hudson Plains, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern Region