U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Spectacled Eider (Somateria fischeri)

Designation: Threatened

Spectacled eiders spend most of the year on marine water where they feed primarily on clams.  They nest on coastal tundra near shallow ponds or lakes, usually within 10 feet of the water.  After breeding, they move offshore to molt.  After molting, eiders from all breeding populations migrate to the central Bering Sea south of St. Lawrence Island, where they remain in large flocks until March or April. 

Critical Habitat

Critical habitat was designated for molting in Norton Sound and Ledyard Bay; for nesting on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta; and for wintering south of St. Lawrence Island.

Spectacled Eider pair on the water
Spectacled Eider pair on the water. Photo credit: USFWS
Spectacled Eider Range Map
Spectacled Eider Range Map

Distribution

There are three breeding populations, two in Alaska and one in Russia.

Threats

Reasons for initial population decline and range contraction are unknown.  Ingestion of lead shot, predation, and harvest may currently be limiting population growth.

Conservation efforts 

Work with partners to:

  1. Monitor the population through aerial surveys on the Arctic Coastal Plan and Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in Alaska.
  2. Continue research to better understand the biology and needs of this species, particularly in relation to changes in their marine wintering habitat in the Bering Sea.
  3. Continue outreach and education to reduce the use of toxic lead ammunition in the breeding areas.

Contacts:

Neesha Stellrecht 

(907) 456-3459

Spectacled Eider nest with four eggs
Spectacled Eider nest with four eggs. Photo credit: USFWS