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Steller's Eider

Polysticta stelleri ORDER: ANSERIFORMES FAMILY: ANATIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Vulnerable

The smallest eider, the Steller's Eider is restricted to northern latitudes where it breeds in freshwater tundra ponds. It spends the rest of the year in shallow marine waters. Birders rarely see it outside of Alaskan waters.

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Appearance

Ducks
Ducks

Adult Description

  • Small, compact duck.
  • Bill small, thick-based, and slightly drooping.
  • Forehead and nape steep.
  • Rather long, pointed tail held above the water.

Male Description

Breeding adult (Alternate plumage): Head white. Pale green spot on lores. White extending from neck to flanks. Throat, collar, and back black (throat actually iridescent blue). Chestnut breast and belly, darker in middle. Small black spot on side of chest in front of wings. White extending in two lines down back. Black spot surrounding eye. Second black spot in bump on nape. Tail and undertail coverts black. Bill gray. Leading edge of wing with large white patch in flight.
Non-breeding adult (Basic plumage): like female, but with white upper wing coverts.

Female Description

Dark brown. Pale eyering. Broad white borders to speculum. Bill gray. Head square. White wing linings in flight.

Immature Description

Like female.

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Field MarksHelp

  • Male

    Steller's Eider

    Male
    • © Mike Danzenbaker
  • Female

    Steller's Eider

    Female
    • © Brian E. Small