In all plumages, this heavy-bodied sea duck exhibits all-dark wings and an erratic flight style. Males have three distinct plumages per year, so they are in a near constant state of molt from spring through fall. In all plumages, males sport long central tail feathers and a dark bill with a pink sub-terminal band. In spring, the head, neck and breast are black with a pale gray mask over the face. Long tan scapulars drape over the dark folded wings. Underparts are white. Later in summer, the head and neck become whiter and the flanks turn a dark gray. In winter, the head and neck are white with a pale gray mask on the face and a black patch on the side of the neck. A broad band of black covers the breast. Long pale gray scapulars drape over the black folded wings. Sides are pale gray, underparts white. Female: During spring, they are dusky gray-brown overall with white flanks and undertail coverts, limited white markings around the eyes and a blurry white ring around the neck. In winter, head and neck are white with a dark crown and cheek patches. Underparts are mostly white, with varying amounts of dusky mottling on breast. Upperparts are gray-brown. The stubby bill is gray. Females lack the long central tail feathers found on males.
Length: 38 (cm) Wingspan: 66 (cm)
Very vocal. Males give a nasal, yodeling ow-ow-owelett. Females give a gentle series of grunts or quacks.
Nests near freshwater tundra wetlands. Winters in coastal waters and large lakes.
Usually flies low to the water with wings held below the level of the body. When feeding, stays underwater for much longer intervals than other diving ducks.
Dives for aquatic invertebrates, mollusks, and fish.
Expanded Life History
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