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King Eider

From Opus

Somateria spectabilis


[edit] Identification

Photo by the late Jim WoodBatsford, Norway, March 2009
Photo by the late Jim Wood
Batsford, Norway, March 2009

47–63 cm; (18-24¼ in)
Adult Male: Breeding:

  • Body almost totally black or blackish
  • White mantle
  • Pinkish-white breast
  • Grey head with orange forehead
  • Coral-pink bill
  • White wing bars show in flight

[edit] Similar Species

Female, immature and eclipse male similar to female Common Eider and Steller's Eider

[edit] Distribution

In the Western Palearctic breeds only in the far north on the islands of Svalbard, Novaya Zemlya and Ostrov Kolguyev, and on the mainland of coastal Arctic Russia from the Kanin Peninsula eastwards. Occasionally breeds south of main range and sometimes interbreeds with Common Eider.

In winter occurs from the White Sea west to the north Scandinavia coast and around coasts of Iceland. Chicks have been recorded in Iceland although they were considered to be probable hybrids.

Rare but regular in northern Scotland in very small numbers with long-staying and returning individuals (c.170 records). Also regularly recorded in small numbers in the southern Baltic. Occasional elsewhere in Britain, vagrant over most of Northern Europe and south to Spain, Italy and the Azores.

[edit] Taxonomy

This is a monotypic species[1].

[edit] Habitat

Breeds on tundra, winters at sea normally in Arctic regions and not confined to inshore waters.

[edit] Behaviour

Vagrants to the south of usual range usually seen inshore in the company of Common Eider.

[edit] Diet

Dives for crustaceans, molluscs and starfish.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from
  2. Collins Pocket Guide to British Birds 1966
  3. Collins Field Guide 5th Edition
  4. Collins Bird Guide ISBN 0 00 219728 6
  5. BTO BirdFacts

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