Migratory Bird Program
Conserving the Nature of America
Focal Species

Common Eider (Somateria mollissima vnigra)

The Pacific subspecies of Common Eider (Somateria mollissima v-nigra) has been identified as a focal species of management concern due to more than a 50% population decline during the 1950’s to 1990’s on the northern Alaska, western Alaska, and Canadian breeding grounds.  The Pacific Common Eider is the most distinct subspecies, morphologically and genetically, of the 4 subspecies recognized in North America.  It breeds primarily along the coastal fringe of Alaska, western Canada and far eastern Russia, and winters at sea in ice-free waters of eastern Russia, southwestern Alaska, the Aleutian Islands and Kodiak Island. Information on natural history and limiting factors for this subspecies is lacking for some areas, particularly for molt and wintering grounds. The North American population of this subspecies is estimated to be 170,000, but long-term trends for this subspecies are largely unknown for areas outside Alaska and the western Canadian Arctic.

Although the cause of sharp population declines is not clear, factors thought to be contributing to Pacific Common Eider declines include accumulation of heavy metals in the food chain, oil pollution, introduced predators in nesting grounds, and harvest of adults, eggs and down for subsistence.


Sea Duck Joint Venture Management Board. 2008. Sea Duck Joint Venture Strategic Plan 2008 – 2012. USFWS, Anchorage, Alaska; CWS, Sackville, New Brunswick. 95 pp.

USFWS. 2006. Action plan for the Pacific common eider. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, Alaska. Unpublished. report. 55Pp. + appendices .



Common Eider

Common Eider

Pacific Common Eider - Photo by Jeff Wasley

Action Plan  in development

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Last updated: February 27, 2012