WatchList Species Account for Steller’s Eider (Polysticta stelleri)

Qualifies for the list as a Red List Species

 

Photo: USFWS
Photo: USFWS

A bird of the northern latitudes, Steller’s Eider has two populations, a small Atlanic population that breeds in western Russia and winters in northern Europe, and a larger Pacific population that breeds primarily in eastern Siberia but also on the Arctic Coastal Plain in Alaska; this population winters in the waters of the Pacific, including the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutians. In nonbreeding it is found in the littoral zone of shallow coastal waters but breeds near freshwater tundra ponds. Formerly it existed in greater numbers and was more widespread in northern Europe, Asia and Alaska than today. Early records indicate it was abundant off Bering Island and there is evidence of some breeding in the Alaskan Peninsula and Aleutians. All populations migrate as the breeding areas at high latitude are uninhabitable in the winter.

 

Avian predators such as Pomarine Jaeger and Common Raven prey on eggs and adults during nesting. Oil spills are a potential threat. This species is particularly vulnerable where it stages and winters, where a large portion of the entire population may occur at the same time; such sites include Izembek and Nelson Lagoons in Alaska. Information on causes of decline, life history, habitat needs, and survival is lacking, since the species completes its life cycle in isolated areas where human presence is low.