King Eider

Somateria spectabilis




Ducks, Geese and Swans (Anatidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Olive, buff or pale olive

Number of Eggs:

3 - 7

Incubation Days:

22 - 24

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

On ground.

Nest Material:

Grass lined with down.





King Eider: Large, regal diving duck with black body and white breast and back. Crown and nape are pale blue; distinct bill is orange-red, sweeping upward into a large, orange basal knob outlined in black. Wings are black with large white patches visible in flight. Tail has white patches at the base. Female has a gray bill and rufous-brown body with chevron-barred sides. 1st winter female resembles adult female but is grayer. 1st winter male is darker overall with orange bill and shows dull white breast and tail patches. Eclipse male is darker overall with yellow bill and basal knob.

Range and Habitat

King Eider: Breeds in the Canadian Arctic, coastal Greenland, northern Alaska, and Siberia. On the Atlantic coast, spends winters south to Virginia but rarely beyond On the Pacific coast, winters on the southern Alaska coast and the Aleutian archipelago. Preferred habitats are rocky coasts and open ocean; nests on inland freshwater lakes and ponds.

Breeding and Nesting

King Eider: Three to seven olive, pale olive, or buff eggs are laid in a flattened hollow of grass lined with down, usually near the water. Incubation ranges from 22 to 24 days and is carried out by the female.

Foraging and Feeding

King Eider: Feeds on mollusks, crustaceans, aquatic insects, eelgrass, widgeon grass, and algae; forages by diving deep under water from the surface.


King Eider Male: Utters soft, dovelike cooing during the breeding season "urrr-urrr-URR."

Similar Species

King Eider: Common Eider has black cap, white back, and lacks orange bill and shield. Spectacled Eider has black breast and spectacles and white back.

The upper front part of a bird.
The crown is the top part of the birds head.
Also called the hindneck or collar, it is the back of the neck where the head joins the body.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X