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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 21:21 EDT

Spectacled Eider

The Spectacled Eider (Somateria fischeri) is a large sea duck that breeds on the coasts of Alaska and northeastern Siberia. It is slightly smaller than the Common Eider at 52-57cm. The male is unmistakable with its black body, white back, and yellow-green head with the large circular white eye patches which give the species its name. The drake’s call is a weak crooning, and the female’s a harsh croak.

The lined nest is built on tundra close to the sea, and 5-9 eggs are laid. This species dives for crustaceans and mollusks. It winters in often enormous flocks at sea in the Arctic along the edge of the pack ice.

The female is a rich brown bird, but can still be readily distinguished from all ducks except other eider species on size and structure. Immature birds and eclipse adult drakes are similar to the female.

Spectacled Eider