KING EIDER

KING EIDER (Somateria spectabilis) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The King Eider drake has a distinctive large orange knob above the bill, edged with a fine black line. Head and nape are light grey. Upper back is white, lower back, rump and belly are black. Wings are black with a large white patch in the middle. Bill is red with a light pink tip. Throat is white, breast is pink-light cinnamon. Female’s head and neck are brown, back and wings are mottled brown. Wings are brown with two fine white bars. Under parts are beige with fine barring. Bill is dark orange with lighter shield. Male in non-breeding plumage has a black head and neck with white spots, and a mostly black plumage. Bill and smaller knob are brown-dark orange. Bill tip has a small hook. Eyes are black in both sexes. Duck length is about 60 cm (24 inches).
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Somateria-spectabilis
NAME: ‘Eider’ would derive from Old Norse to mean ‘duck’. ‘King’ refers to the ‘fit-for-a-king’ plumage. Latin genus name ‘Somateria’ means ‘body’ and ‘wool’, in reference to the bird’s down. Latin species name ‘spectabilis’ means ‘showy’ and refers to the drake’s plumage.
HABITAT: Tundra marshes in the summer, coastal shallow waters in the winter.
DIET: Plant material, insects and crustaceans in the summer; molluscs, starfish, seaweed and crustaceans in the winter.
NESTING: Nest is a scrape on the ground near water. From two to six green eggs are laid, incubated by the female. Ducklings can feed themselves but cared for by the female.
DISTRIBUTION: Breeds in the Arctic around the world. Winters along the northern coasts of North America, Iceland, Scandinavia, southern Greenland and eastern Siberia.
Distribution Map: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_eider#/media/File:Somateria_spectabilis_map.svg
ON PEI: Does not breed on Prince Edward Island, sightings occasional or rare in spring and fall.
CONSERVATION: Widespread and large population, not currently at risk.
NOTES: King eiders are a diving duck species.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Common Eider
REFERENCES: https://www.borealbirds.org/bird/king-eider
http://www.npolar.no/en/species/king-eider.html (Norwegian Polar Institute)
https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Somateria_spectabilis/ (University of Michigan)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_eider
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/King_Eider
https://www.spitsbergen-svalbard.com/spitsbergen-information/wildlife/king-eider.html
https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/king-eider
http://www.ducks.org/hunting/waterfowl-id/king-eider
https://birdatlas.mb.ca/accounts/speciesaccount.jsp?sp=KIEI&lang=en (Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas)
https://identify.whatbird.com/obj/445/overview/King_Eider.aspx

King Eider pairs - Alaska Wildlife Refuge - June 1972 - photo by B. Bergman, USFWS
King Eider pairs – Alaska Wildlife Refuge – June 1972 – photo by B. Bergman, USFWS
King Eider drake in flight - Scandinavia - Apr. 2014 - photo by Ron Knight
King Eider drake in flight – Scandinavia – Apr. 2014 – photo by Ron Knight
King Eider, drake - Northern Norway - Apr. 2014 - photo by Ron Knight
King Eider, drake – Northern Norway – Apr. 2014 – photo by Ron Knight
King Eider, female - Keflavik, Iceland - Mar. 2012 - photo by Ómar Runólfsson
King Eider, female – Keflavik, Iceland – Mar. 2012 – photo by Ómar Runólfsson

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