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  ScienceZoologyBirdsOrder Anseriformes
pair of Spectacled EidersSpectacled Eider

Somateria fischeri


The spectacled eider differs from other eiders in that its feathers extend down to the nostrils on the bill, which is bright orange on males and blue-gray on females. Males have a black chest and pale green head, but are best distinguished by the white patches around their eyes, which are encircled by black feathers to give the appearance of spectacles. Females are brown with black streaks and bars of brown, with light brown patches around the eyes.

Distribution and Habitat

Spectacled eiders are found along the west coast of Alaska, from Point Barrow to the Lower Kuskokwim River. They breed on lowland tundra near shores, lakes, and deltas that has sufficient high grass in which to build their nests.


Pair bonds form at the beginning of each breeding season, and are broken as soon as the season is over.

The nest is built in grass flats or on the edges of tundra ponds. One egg is laid every other day, up to an average of 4 or 5 total per clutch. Incubation takes about 24 days, and chicks are able to fly after about 53 days.


The majority of the spectacled eider's diet consists of mollusks, but they also feed on terrestrial and freshwater plant material. On water it is more of a dabbler than a diver.

Habits and Behaviors

Spectacled eiders are much more social during the breeding season that at other times during the year.

Scientific Classification

phylum Chordata
subphylum Vertebrata
class Aves
order Anseriformes
family Anatidae
subfamily Anatinae
genus & species Somateria fischeri

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This page was last updated on September 20, 2015.

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