King Eider Life History


Habitat OceansNests in various tundra habitats, generally in low marshy areas. Winters in marine environments near coastlines or on open water shallow enough to allow for foraging at the bottom.Back to top


Food Aquatic invertebratesAquatic insect larvae, crustaceans, and plant matter in summer. In winter, feeds on a wide variety of marine animals, including mollusks, crustaceans, and echinoderms, as well as algae.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Ground

Nest Description

A scrape on the ground, usually near water, lined with vegetation and down from the female.

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size:2-7 eggs
Egg Description:Olive or olive-buff.
Condition at Hatching:Covered in down and able to leave the nest soon after hatching.
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Behavior Surface DiveDuring the breeding season, feeds by tipping up, probing, or diving, depending on water depth. In winter, most commonly dives to sea floor to take prey.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernThere is little information on King Eider population trends and numbers, though there may be some recent population declines, especially in western North America. King Eider is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List.Back to top


Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2015.2. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2015.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. 2014. The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Powell, Abby N. and Robert S. Suydam. 2012. King Eider (Somateria spectabilis), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

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