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Stellers Eiders
Steller's Eider
(Polysticta stelleri)
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Range

Winters on Kamchatka Peninsula, Aleutian Islands, and coast of Scandanvia. Discontinuous breeding range in coastal AK from the Alaska Peninsula along the Arctic Slope to the Yukon border, Seward Peninsula, Alaska Peninsula, St. Lawrence Island, Nunivak Island.

Predators
Foxes, Jaegers, Gulls, Eagles, Ravens

Prey
Marine invertebrates, crustaceans, mollusks, aquatic insects, aquatic vegetation.

Size
Length 12”, Wingspan 29” Smallest of the four Eiders.

Life Span
Estimated at 20-25 years

Reproduction
Nests are slight depressions on the tundra, usually on a raised mound or ridge, lined with fine moss and other vegetation and dark down feathers. Down lining increases as incubation advances. Six to eight olive-buff eggs are laid, which are incubated for around 25 to 27 days.

Seasonal Change
Male: black upperparts and neck collar, white head and chestnut breast and belly
Female: dark brown plumage, occasionally pale eye ring

Morphology and Function
Smallest, trimmest, and fastest flyer of the four North American eider species.

Behavior
Male’s display consists of a sudden, silent throwing back of the entire body in the water, exposing their brownish bellies, and then dropping back and hiding them. They also alternate drinking and preening while the female lies prone and watches.

Also know as ‘soldier’s duck’ from its occasional habit of flocking birds swimming in single file.

Similar Species
The adult male is not likely to be confused with any other duck. The very dark female is similar to other female eiders but differs with the smaller size, unfeathered bill, squarer head, longer tail, and is more mottled than barred.

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