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Spectacled Eider Somateria fischeri


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Male (front) and female (rear)
credit: Laura Whitehouse, USFWS

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Family: Anatidae, Ducks and Geese view all from this family

Dimensions Length: 20 1/2 -22" (52-56 cm)

Endangered Status The Spectacled Eider is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered in Alaska. The Alaska population, which breeds on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, has declined rapidly, as much as 95 percent, in recent years. The reasons are unknown, but some factors may be an increase in predators relative to eider numbers and the ingestion of lead shot. Some other duck species plummeted in number because of overhunting, and it is possible that predators turned to eiders for sustenance. The wintering sites of the Spectacled Eider, openings in the ice in the frozen Bering Sea, were not discovered until 1995. Surveys made then ensured biologists that these birds still existed in number worldwide, even though the Alaska breeding population had crashed.

Range Alaska

Discussion Bulky seaduck. Recalls Common Eider, but all birds have a dark-framed, pale "spectacle" surrounding eye. In male it is white on an otherwise mostly lime-green head; the bill is pink. In female, it is pale gray-buff and contrasts with the otherwise brown, finely patterned plumage; the bill is gray. High Arctic, Alaskan specialty, wintering in Bering Sea.