Steller’s eiders are the smallest member of the four eider duck species. They breed in northern Alaska and Russia and winter from the eastern Aleutian Islands to lower Cook Inlet. The worldwide population of Steller’s eiders has declined as much as 50% in the past 30 years, and in 1997 the Alaska breeding population was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.The Kodiak archipelago is the southeastern edge of the Steller’s eider wintering range. In the early 1990’s, Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge began aerial surveys to count flocks of eiders feeding in the shallow eelgrass habitats along the eastern side of Kodiak Island. In 2010, the winter count of Steller’s eiders was 2,700, well below the average of about 4,000 birds seen on previous surveys conducted in 1992-1994 and 2001. Kodiak Refuge plans to survey for Steller’s eiders every 5 years to determine the status of this species wintering along the eastern shoreline of the island.
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Kodiak bears and Sitka black-tailed deer both eat fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium), a wild herb that blooms with purple flowers in August.