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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.

At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
16.9–17.7 in
43–45 cm
Weight
30–31 oz
850–880 g
Other Names
  • Eider de Steller (French)
  • Eider menor (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • Spends the winter in large flocks. Flocks dive synchronously and may create a spray as they dive and then surface in unison.
  • The oldest recorded Steller's Eider was a female, and at least 23 years old. She was banded in Alaska in 1975, and found in Russia in 1997.

Habitat


Lake/Pond

  • Breeds on tundra, near edges of shallow ponds. Compared to other eiders, not so closely tied to the sea or coast.
  • Winters along coast in shallow lagoons with large tidal flats, and in deep bays.

Food


Insects

Aquatic invertebrates, including insects and larvae, small crustaceans, clams, and mussels.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Egg Description
Olive-buff to brownish-orange.
Condition at Hatching
Downy and eyes open. Feed themselves immediately.
Nest Description

On ground in open tundra. Made of grass, weeds, lichens, and down.

Nest Placement

Ground

Behavior


Surface Dive

Dives underwater, but also tips-up.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Vulnerable

There is little information on population trends of Steller's Eider, but populations appear to be declining, and the species is considered threatened in the United States and rare in Russia. Steller's Eider is on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, which lists bird species that are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without conservation action.

Credits

  • Fredrickson, L. H. 2001. Steller's Eider (Polysticta stelleri). In The Birds of North America, No. 571 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.
  • North American Bird Conservation Initiative, U.S. Committee. 2014. State of the Birds 2014 Report. U.S. Department of Interior, Washington, DC.
  • USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. 2015. Longevity records of North American Birds.

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