Identification of Eiders
Eiders are large, heavy sea ducks. Four species are found in the United Sates.
Eiders are well-known for their dense down feathers which help the birds stay warm in their cold habitats. Females use their own down feathers to line thier nests. In Scandinavia, “eider farms” are used to collect down from the nests.
What you should know
- Spectacled Eider and Steller’s Eider nest in parts of coastal Alaska and winter off the coast of Alaska. They are not typically found in most of Canada or other parts of the United States.
- Common Eider and King Eiders can be observed along the north-eastern coast line of the United States, as well as coastal Alaska.
- Males and females exhibit a high degree of sexual dimorphism.
In this category
Common Eider – are known for their soft down feathers (which are harvested for commercial use in some regions). Common eiders are also ecologically significant as prey for predators such as foxes, gulls, and eagles, and as indicators of the health of marine ecosystems.
King Eider – breeds in the Arctic and subarctic regions of North America and Eurasia. Adult males have a distinctive plumage with orange, green, and white feathers on their head, neck, and breast.
Spectacled Eider – adult males have a black body, white back, and a distinctive white “spectacle” patch around their eyes, while females are brownish with a pale belly.
Steller’s Eider – are known for their unique feeding behavior, diving to the sea floor to feed on benthic invertebrates such as clams and snails.