Eyes on Eiders Header

Eiders are sea ducks, which means that they live in coastal areas where they dabble for small invertebrates or dive for crustaceans and molluscs. Steller's eiders nest on the arctic and subarctic tundra. These birds are sexually dimorphic, so males generally look very different from females. Click on the images below to discover the advantages of different colors on the tundra:

Steller's eiders are migratory and winter comes early on the Alaskan tundra. Before ice covers the ponds and coastal waters near the Steller's beeding grounds, the birds must travel south to areas where the coast doesn't freeze over, allowing them to access food resources in the ocean.

Watch the video to learn where the Steller's eiders of Alaska travel throughout the year.

VIDEO: Annual Cycle of Steller's Eiders in Alaska

Discover the life history of Steller's eiders in Alaska. (2:44)

Video Transcript

Every species of bird has different requirements for successful nesting but, with so few of these birds in the wild and so little known about them, how will researchers know what Steller's eiders need? In captivity, these birds won’t have to worry about predators or the challenges of migration. But will the scientists be able to provide them with requirements they need to nest and raise ducklings hundreds of miles away from the tundra?





  CAMOUFLAGE (n) - concealment that alters or obscures the appearance; helps an organism to hide from its predators.
  FORAGE (v) - to search for and collect food.
  INCUBATE (v) - to keep an egg or organism at an appropriate temperature for it to develop.
  IRIDESCENT (adj) - shining with many different colors when seen from different angles.
  LIFE HISTORY (n) - the series of changes a living thing goes through during its lifetime.
  MIGRATION (n) - seasonal movement from one area to another.
  MOLT (v) - to lose a covering of hair, feathers, etc., and replace it with new growth.
  PLUMAGE (n) - the feathers that cover the body of a bird.
  SEXUAL DIMORPHISM (n) - when the male and female of the same species look distinctly different from one another.


Female Steller's Eiders are mostly brown to provide camouflage while incubating their eggs on the tundra. Male Steller's Eiders have striking plumage used to attract mates as well as distract predtors from the nesting females.