King Eider Duck
The King Eider Duck is a large sea duck that breeds along Northern Hemisphere Arctic coasts of northeast Europe, North America and Asia. The birds spend most of the year in coastal marine ecosystems at high latitudes, and migrate to Arctic tundra to breed in June and July. They lay four to seven eggs in a scrape on the ground lined with grass and down.
Male – The male king eider duck has a bluish-grey crown and nape, pale green cheeks, chin and neck are white, breast is white with a salmon-pinkish wash, red beak with a large orange knob which is bordered with black, black body and tail with large white patch either side of the rump, and legs and feet are yellow.
Female – The female king eider duck has a deep reddish-brown plumage marked with dark chevrons on back and flanks, a grey beak but without the large orange knob of the male, and legs and feet are grey or yellowish. The female resembles the Common Eider.
Eclipse – The male in eclipse plumage has a dark brown plumage with variable white markings on breast and mantle. The wings retain their visible white coverts.
Size: – Typical Adult is 19-25 inches.
Food: – Molluscs, crustaceans, aquatic insects, larvae, and also a small amount of aquatic vegetation, eelgrass, and algae.
Habitat: – Lakes, pools, and rivers in arctic tundra, coastal areas in Canada, Alaska, Greenland, and northern coasts of Russia, and Siberia. Winters in Aleutians, Bering Sea, St Lawrence Island, west Greenland, and Iceland.
Breeding Season: – Mid-June onwards.
Eggs: – 4 to 6 (olive-buff color).
Notes: – Like the Long-tailed Duck, the king eider duck species breeds in the extreme north. The King Eider is a large sea duck which is hunted in large numbers in the Arctic during the Spring.
The different types of wild ducks can be grouped into puddle, aka “dabbling” and diving ducks. The dabblers mostly feed in smaller bodies of shallow water or along shorelines, where they are able to tip their bodies forward to reach their food on the bottom. There are divers who feed in deeper water where they dive and pursue their quarry. Some of these birds, the Harlequin Duck for example, actually dives to the bottom of fast-flowing waters and feeds on life forms attached to rocks.