|Conservation status||The Alaskan population has dropped sharply in recent decades, but the causes for this decline are not well understood. Numbers are also declining in at least some areas of Arctic Russia and Scandinavia. Like other Arctic breeders, may be especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change.|
|Family||Ducks and Geese|
|Habitat||Coasts, ocean. In breeding season on low-lying tundra with many lakes and ponds, often some distance inland. At other seasons on ocean, in areas with clear water, as along rocky shores or around edges of pack ice.|
During most of year forages at sea by diving and swimming underwater. In summer, may forage in shallow water by wading or swimming, with head submerged or dabbling at surface.
7-8, sometimes 5-10. Olive buff. Incubation by female only, incubation period unknown. Young: Leave nest shortly after hatching and go to water. Female tends young, but young find all their own food. 2 or more broods of young sometimes join under care of 1 or more females. Age at first flight not known.
Leave nest shortly after hatching and go to water. Female tends young, but young find all their own food. 2 or more broods of young sometimes join under care of 1 or more females. Age at first flight not known.
varies with season and habitat. Diet at sea is mostly mollusks and crustaceans, but also echinoderms, polychaete worms, small fish. On tundra in summer, eats many aquatic insects, also some plant material such as pondweeds and crowberries.
Pairs formed in winter flocks. In courtship, several males may surround one female. Males' displays include rearing up out of water, turning head rapidly from side to side, tossing head back with rapid motion; may lead to courtship flight, with several males in pursuit of female. Nest site is on ground near water, on open tundra or surrounded by low scrub. Nest, built by female, is shallow depression lined with bits of plant material and large amounts of down.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Most of world's population (from Alaska and Siberia) winters in southern Bering Sea, although some go west to winter off northern Scandinavia. Migrates in flocks.
- 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 CallsMale has a weak moan similar to Common Eider's; female makes low growling notes.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Steller's Eider
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Steller's 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.