Geese Ducks and Swans: Anatidae
King Eider (somateria Spectabilis): Species Accounts
Physical characteristics: Weighs 3.3 to 4.4 pounds (1.5 to 2 kilograms) and measures 17 to 25 inches (43 to 63 centimeters) in length. Male has a blue, yellow, and white head. Bill is bright orange and yellow and develops from a "shield" from the top of the face.
Geographic range: King eiders live on the Arctic coasts. They winter off the coast of Iceland, Norway, Kuril and Aleutian Islands, and as far south as California and Long Island (New York).
Habitat: Lives in oceans and other saltwater areas. Breeds on land in Arctic freshwater wetlands.
Diet: King eiders eat mostly mussels, sand dollars, squid and small fish. They dive (sometimes as deep as 150 feet, or 50 meters) and up-end (put their heads under while their back end stays out of the water) to retrieve food. They also eat tundra vegetation.
Behavior and reproduction: Eiders migrate in a straight line. They are seasonally monogamous, and the male leaves the female midway through incubation. Females lay four to five eggs into holes in the ground that have little lining. Incubation lasts twenty-two to twenty-four days. Ducklings are ready to breed at three years.
King eiders and people: This duck is hunted for food and game, and its down is among the highest quality available, used to make pillows and comforters.
Conservation status: The king eider is common throughout its range. ∎
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