A Steller’s Eider is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Steller’s Eiders. We have also put together a list of fun Steller’s Eider t-shirts, Steller’s Eider bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird-watching items.
About Steller’s Eiders
Steller’s Eiders are the smallest eiders that are restricted to the northern hemisphere. Here, they breed in tundra ponds with fresh water. Outside the breeding season, they spend much of their time in shallow marine waters. Their distribution is restricted around the Bering Sea and birders rarely see them outside the Alaskan waters. Some of their distinctive features include:
Description and Identification
They are typically eighteen inches, around crow size. Females are generally smaller than males.
Female Steller’s Eiders possess duck-like features. They have a rounder head and are cinnamon
or brown in color with white underwings. Their plumage tends to fade during the process of
molting. On the other hand, male Steller’s Eiders are more colorful. They have a white head
with thick black eye rings and greenish-black tufts on the foreheads. The Underbelly is white with
orange buff. Their chins, throats, necks, rumps, tails, and backs are black. The wings are dark
blueish purple with white edges, which look like stipes when folded. Their speculum is metallic blue
with white borders. Both sexes have blueish gray feet and bills.
Steller’s Eider Color Pattern
They have a black back and a white-collar coupled with white sides. Their underparts are white with a visible black spot on the side. Their legs, feet, and bill are blue-gray. Their white heads consist of a black eye patch and chin.
Steller’s Eider Size
Steller’s Eiders are small but compact ducks with a small, thick, and slightly drooping bill. They have a long and pointed tail that is always held above water.
The relative size of both sexes
- Length range: 16.9-17.7 in (43-45 cm)
- Weight: 30.0-31-0 oz (850-880 g)
- Wingspan range: 28-30 in (71-76 cm)
Steller’s Eider Behavior
They mainly forage at sea by swimming underwater or diving. In summer, they mainly forage by wadding on shallow water. They can also swim in shallow waters with heads submerged. Pairs are mostly formed in winter and during courtship, several males can surround one female and perform an array of displays.
Steller’s Eider Food
Being diverse, their diet consists of crustaceans and mollusks. Their favorite food is mussels. They
also consume echinoderms, worms, small fish, and aquatic insects. They dive in groups but are
independent when they feed. Steller’s Eiders occasionally eat plant matter like pondweeds and
Steller’s Eiders’ diet varies with habitat and seasons. At sea, they mainly feed on crustaceans and mollusks, although they can still feed on small fish, polychaete worms, and echinoderms. During summer they can feed on a wide array of aquatic insects and plants such as pondweeds.
Steller’s Eider Habitat
They reside in coastal Tundra Sedge and thrive in marshes and freshwater. They migrate to the
lagoons on the Alaska Peninsula to molt. They nest in the dry areas with an abundance of water in
ridges or hummocks where moss and lichen are highly prevalent. Steller’s Eiders spend winters
mostly in the Aleutian Islands. They make their nests in shallow depressions in rocky shores and
ice edges, using plant material and down.
They breed on the tundra near ponds preferably on their edges. They are not as common at sea or oceans as their relatives. Steller’s eiders winter along coastal shores in shallow lagoons.
Range and Migration
A descendant of the duck family, the Steller’s Eiders are a breed primarily found in Siberia and
Alaska. They are migratory birds that flock in large numbers. They settle a little farther towards
the southern regions of the Bering Sea, Northern Scandinavia, and Baltic sea for winters. They
have rarely been found past their range except for some hybrid species that were found in
Germany in the late nineteen nineties. They are now considered a vulnerable species because of
their sudden and drastic drop in numbers due to climate change and loss of habitat.
Steller’s Eider Lifecycle
The females lay 7-8 eggs and incubate them for an unknown period. The hatchlings leave the nest a few moments after hatching. The female then leads them to the water where they fend for themselves.
Steller’s Eider Nesting
Steller’s Eiders live in large flocks and form their mating pairs during winter. Females are solely
responsible for the raising of offspring. Males separate after mating, and during the process, they
gather in numbers around one female. They have a range of sounds and motions that attract the
female, who chooses her mate from the prospects in front of her. Female Steller’s Eiders can lay
from five to ten eggs and incubate them for a period of twenty-five to twenty-eight days. The chicks
are protected but are independent. They search for their own food until they can dive. Many times,
one female will escort two broods of chicks. With little help, the chicks leave their nests only a few
days after hatching.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Steller’s Eiders
The most common types of bird-watching binoculars for viewing Steller’s Eiders are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
Steller’s Eider T-shirts
If you love the Steller’s Eider you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Steller’s Eider Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron-on patches. Our bird-watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen and identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Steller’s Eider is a great iron-on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Steller’s Eider Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Steller’s Eider. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders for Steller’s Eiders
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Steller’s Eiders
There are many types of birdhouses. Building a birdhouse is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 birdhouses have become our favorites. Getting a birdhouse for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these birdhouses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.