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King Eider

The King Eider (Somateria spectabilis) is one of the most beautiful waterfowl species in the world. They are also one of the hardiest species, living year round in the high arctic and sub-arctic areas of the far north. These large sea ducks breed in Arctic Eurasia, Alaska and Canada.  They winter in ice free areas of the Bering Sea, the western coast of Greenland, eastern Canada and Northern Norway.  It occasionally strays south of these areas in small numbers.

Females begin nesting at age 3 and clutch size is typically 4-5 eggs.  The hen incubates for roughly 24 days before hatch and she may lose a quarter of her body weight.  Soon after hatch the hen will lead the ducklings to a small tundra pond or wetland where the ducklings will begin to feed on their own.  It typically takes the ducklings 50 days from hatch to flight. King Eiders spend the majority of their lives in marine environments feeding on benthic invertebrates.  This includes mussels and snails, but crustaceans, echinoderms small fish and worms are also part of the diet.  These invertebrates are acquired by diving to depths of up to 180 ft, making these eiders one of the deepest diving of all waterfowl.

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