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  ScienceZoologyBirdsOrder Anseriformes
pair of Steller's EidersSteller's Eider

Polysticta stelleri


The smallest of the eiders, this duck is only 17 to 18 inches long. It is characterized by a small, thick-based, and slightly drooping bill, steep forehead and nape, and a long, pointed tail held above the water. The male is only slightly larger than the female.

Adult females are dark brown in color, have pale rings around the eyes, and are marked by white wing linings easily visible in flight. Non-breeding males look much like the females, but with white upper wing coverts and more pronounced eye rings.

distribution of Steller's Eiders in North AmericaDistribution and Habitat

Steller's eiders breed in freshwater tundra ponds on the Arctic coasts of Alaska and Russia. They spend the rest of the year in shallow marine waters around the Aleutian Islands, and occasionally just south of the Arctic Circle in Europe.


The nest is built on the ground in open tundra, and constucted of grass, weeds, lichens, and down. A typical clutch consists of five to eight olive-buff to brownish-orange eggs.


Steller's eiders feed on a variety of aquatic invertebrates, including insects and larvae, small crustaceans, clams, and mussels. Food is taken by underwater diving, as well as by tipping.

Habits and Behaviors

These ducks spend the winter in large flocks. Flocks often dive synchronously and then surface in unison.

Scientific Classification

phylum Chordata
subphylum Vertebrata
class Aves
order Anseriformes
family Anatidae
subfamily Anatinae
genus & species Polysticta stelleri

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This page was last updated on September 11, 2015.

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