Spectacled eiders are large sea ducks with a very noticeable difference. The colourful males are distinguished by black feathers surrounding white eye patches, looking much like a pair of spectacles! The females in comparison are much less showy.
Spectacled eiders arrive along the coast of Alaska and northeastern Siberia to breed during spring, making nests next to ponds out of the tundra's high grass. But little is still known about where spectacled eiders spend the winter, it is probably somewhere in the Bering Sea. They differ from other eider ducks in that their feathers extend down to the nostrils on the bill.
Scientific name: Somateria fischeri
The following habitats are found across the Spectacled eider distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Year assessed: 2009
Classified by: IUCN 3.1
The Spectacled Eider (Somateria fischeri) is a large sea duck that breeds on the coasts of Alaska and northeastern Siberia.
The lined nest is built on tundra close to the sea, and 5–9 eggs are laid. This species dives for crustaceans and molluscs. The winter range is poorly known, but satellite tracking has led to observations of large flocks of the birds about 100 km southwest of St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea during March–April. This area has large populations of bivalves in the underlying sediments at depths of about 60 m that the ducks dive to feed on.
The Spectacled Eider is slightly smaller than the Common Eider at 52–57 cm in length. The male is unmistakable with its black body, white back, and yellow-green head with the large circular white eye patches which give the species its name. The drake's call is a weak crooning, and the female's a harsh croak.
The female is a rich brown bird, but can still be readily distinguished from all ducks except other eider species on size and structure. The paler goggles are visible with a reasonable view and clinch identification. Immature birds and eclipse adult drakes are similar to the female.
The Spectacled Eider is listed in the US as a Federally Threatened species and is unhuntable.
The binomial commemorates the German scientist Johann Fischer von Waldheim.
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