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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 12:32 EDT

Steller’s Eider

The Steller’s eider (Polysticta stelleri) is a medium to large sea duck (yet the smallest of te eiders), which breeds along the arctic coasts of eastern Siberia and Alaska. The lined nest is built on tundra close to the sea, and 6-10 eggs are laid.

It winters somewhat further south in the Bering Sea, northern Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea. It can form large flocks, up to 200,000 birds on suitable coastal waters. It is scarce south of its wintering range.

This species dives for crustaceans and molluscs, with mussels being a favoured food.

The male has black upperparts and neck collar, white head and yellowish underparts. The drake’s call is a deep crooning, although it is relatively quiet compared to the Somateria eiders.

The female is a dark brown bird, smaller with a more typically duck-shaped head and body than other eider species. She also has a repertoire of grunts and whistles.

This bird is named after the German naturalist Georg Steller.

Steller8217s Eider