The Velvet scoter is characterised by its bulky shape and large bill. It is the largest scoter at 51-58 cm. The male is all black, except for white around the eye and a white speculum. It has a bulbous yellow bill with a black base. The females are brown birds with two pale patches on each side of the head and white wing patches.
Habitat and Distribution
The Velvet scoter breeds over the far north of Europe and Asia west of the Yenisey basin. It winters further south in temperate zones, Europe as far south as Great Britain, and on the Black and Caspian Sea. Small numbers reach France and northern Spain. It forms large flocks on suitable coastal waters. These are tightly packed, and the birds tend to take off together.
This duck dives for crustaceans and molluscs.
The build a lined nest on the ground close to the sea, lakes or rivers, in woodland or tundra, and typically contains 7-9 eggs.