|Conservation status||In the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta of western Alaska, one of the main breeding areas, populations declined by 96% from 1970 to 1993. Populations elsewhere may be declining, but not so sharply. Total numbers in Russia are not well known. Like other Arctic birds, probably vulnerable to the effects of climate change.|
|Family||Ducks and Geese|
|Habitat||Ocean, tundra. In breeding season on wet low-lying tundra with many lakes and ponds, sometimes well inland. At other seasons on ocean. May be near coastline but often far offshore, along edges and openings of floating pack ice.|
During most of year forages mainly by diving and swimming underwater. Supposedly able to remain submerged longer than most diving ducks. On tundra in summer may forage by dabbling in shallow water or by walking on land.
Leave nest shortly after hatching, are led to water by female. Young are tended by female but find all their own food. Age at first flight 53 days or less, a rapid development for large size of bird.
mostly mollusks. During most of year, when at sea, diet is mainly mollusks. In summer on tundra, diet includes many aquatic insects and some crustaceans, plus much plant material such as sedges, grasses, and berries.
Most pairs evidently formed in winter, before spring migration to nesting grounds. Male's displays include rearing up out of water, wing-flaps, shaking head rapidly, stretching neck upward and then jerking head back in quick motion. Nest site is usually very close to edge of tundra pond, on a raised ridge or hummock; sites may be re-used in subsequent years. Nest (built by female) is a shallow depression lined with plant material and with large amounts of down. Eggs 3-6, sometimes 1-8. Olive buff. Incubation is by the female only, about 24 days. Young: Leave nest shortly after hatching, are led to water by female. Young are tended by female but find all their own food. Age at first flight 53 days or less, a rapid development for large size of bird.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Flocks in migration usually fly low over sea. Winter range is still very poorly known; thought to be around southern edge of pack ice far out in Bering Sea, but there is still little direct evidence.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsUsually silent; a soft ah-hoo!
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Spectacled Eider
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Climate threats facing the Spectacled Eider
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.