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. Occasionally small numbers strays south of these areas.
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 they 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 up to 180ft, making the King Eider one of the deepest diving of all waterfowl.
Alaska is the winter home to an immense number of Harlequins and Oldsquaws, especially the Aleutian Islands, Pibilof Islands, Alaska Peninsula and nearby islands. Both these species decoy very well, however we typically hunt them in different locations. Occasionally we can set harlequin decoys along shore and points if conditions allow, if not we can pass shoot them from shore. Oldsquaw prefer the more open waters and we often get opportunities for them while targeting Kings. We do get a few White-winged Scoters, especially during the first week of hunts in late December.
Alaskan Eider Outfitters uses custom Harlequin decoys and other top equipment to ensure high quality hunts. Alaska law restricts non-residents to a seasonal limit of 4 Harlequin. Due to our observations of fewer Harlequin wintering on the island we ask our guests to limit their take on Harlequin to 2 birds. Join us for a Harlequin hunt over decoys in Alaska. Always feel free to Contact Us for more info.
Harlequin (Histrionicus histrionicus), is a small, strikingly beautiful sea duck. Their breeding habitat is cold fast moving streams in north-western and north-eastern North America, Greenland, Iceland and western Russia. Wintering area range from the Pribilof Islands, Aleutian Islands, Alaska Peninsula through south central Alaska down to Coastal Oregon. The Atlantic population is much smaller and protected from hunting and is also a distinct population. Like other sea ducks they feed by diving for benthic invertebrates typically close to rocky shorelines. Insects, crustaceans, mollusk and others make up the majority of their diet. Harlequins are very vocal and use a variety of squeaks and peeps. Females first breed when they are at least two years old. Harlequin ducks use clear, fast-flowing rivers and streams during the breeding season, where females will typically lay 5 -7 eggs.
Oldsquaw or Long-Tailed Ducks are relatively small and graceful sea ducks and are the most numerous of all arctic sea ducks. They breed at low densities across the northern tundra areas of Alaska and Canada in North America. The majority of their time is spent near coastal marine areas where they dive up to 200ft for a variety of invertebrates. Oldsquaws have a unique and complex molting schedule that is different from any other waterfowl species. They actually go through 3 different molts in one year. Below are pictures of Oldsquaw in different plumages.