Spectacled Eider (Somateria fischeri)

Spectacled Eider

[order] ANSERIFORMES | [family] Anatidae | [latin] Somateria fischeri | [authority] Brandt, 1847 | [UK] Spectacled Eider | [FR] Eider a lunettes | [DE] Pluschkopf-Ente | [ES] Eider de Anteojos | [NL] Brileider


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Somateria fischeri NA, EU Siberia, Alaska


Eiders are large seaducks in the genus Somateria. Steller’s Eider, despite its name, is in a different genus. The three extant species all breed in the cooler latitudes of the Northern hemisphere. Two undescribed species are known from fossils, one from Middle Oligocene rocks in Kazakhstan and another from the Late Miocene or Early Pliocene of Lee Creek Mine, USA. The former may not actually belong into this genus.

Physical charateristics

Note the white “spectacles.” Male: Grotesque; black below, white above, suggesting a male Common Eider, but head largely pale green, with large white”goggles” narrowly trimmed with black. Female:
Brown and barred like the other female eiders but with a pale ghost image of the goggles. The feathering at the base of the bill extends over the nostril.

Listen to the sound of Spectacled Eider

[audio:http://www.planetofbirds.com/MASTER/ANSERIFORMES/Anatidae/sounds/Spectacled Eider.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 51 cm size max.: 58 cm
incubation min.: 23 days incubation max.: 25 days
fledging min.: 50 days fledging max.: 53 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 4  
      eggs max.: 5  


North America, Eurasia : Siberia, Alaska


Ocean, tundra. In breeding season on wet low-lying tundra with many lakes and ponds, sometimes well inland. At other seasons on ocean. May be near coastline but often far offshore, along edges and openings of floating pack ice.


Age at fi
rst breeding probably at least 2 years. Most pairs evidently formed in winter, before spring migration. Male’s displays include rearing up out of water, wing-flaps, shaking head rapidly, stretching neck upward and then jerking head back in quick motion.

Nest: Site is usually very close to edge of tundra pond, on a raised ridge or hummock; sites may be reused in subsequent years. Nest (built by female) is a shallow depression lined with plant material and with large amounts of down.
Clutch 3-6, sometimes 1-8. Olive buff. Incubation by the female only, about 24 days.
Young: Young leave nest shortly after hatching, are led to water by female. Young are tended by female but find all their own food. Age at first flight 53 days or less, a rapid development for large size of bird. 1 brood per year.

Feeding habits

Mostly mollusks. During most of year, when at sea, diet is mainly mollusks. In summer on tundra, diet includes many aquatic insects and some crustaceans, plus much plant material such as sedges, grasses, and berries.

During most of year forages at sea by diving and swimming underwater, propelled mainly by feet. Supposedly able to remain submerged longer than most diving ducks. On tundra in summer may forage by dabbling in shallow water or by walking on land.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Spectacled Eider status Least Concern


Northeastern Siberia, northern Alaska. bMigration:

Winter range is still largely unknown; satellite telemetry has given an indication of where some of the wintering areas are. Other areas are thought to occur at the southern edge of pack ice far out in the Bering Sea, but this has not been proven.

Distribution map

Spectacled Eider distribution range map

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