General information

Common Eider

Iñupiaq Name: Amauligruaq
Scientific Name: Somateria mollissima

King Eider

Iñupiaq Name: Qiŋalik
Scientific Name: Somateria spectabilis

Spectacled Eider

Iñupiaq Name: Qavaasuk
Scientific Name: Somateria fischeri

Steller’s Eider

Iñupiaq Name: Igniqauqtuq
Scientific Name: Polysticta stelleri

Eiders are sea ducks found in the circumpolar arctic and subarctic. There are four species of Eiders found on the North Slope: common eiders, king eiders, spectacled eiders, and Steller’s eiders. Common and King eiders are similar in size. Spectacled eiders are slightly smaller and Steller’s eiders are the smallest. Eiders migrate north in the spring to nest on the Arctic tundra. They migrate south in the late summer or early fall. The eiders that nest on the North Slope winter in the Bering Sea. Eiders have a thick underlayer of down feathers and body fat for insulation needed to live in the Arctic. Males are more colorful than the females. Females incubate the eggs in the nest so their coloration allows them to blend into the tundra. Eiders are diving ducks feeding on aquatic animals, like mollusks, crustaceans and aquatic insects.

Click on the species names above to find out more about eider studies conducted on the North Slope.

King Eiders in flight. Photo: Kate Stafford

Banner photo credit: Kate Stafford

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