Family Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)

Least Concern

King Eider (Somateria spectabilis)


French: Eider à tête grise German: Prachteiderente Spanish: Éider real

Anas spectabilis


, 1758,

Canada and Sweden


Closely linked to S. mollissima, with which it frequently hybridizes in the wild#R. Monotypic.


Breeds on Arctic coasts of Europe, Asia and North America, except Iceland and Scandinavia (where may breed sporadically). In winter farther S, to NW & NE North America, Iceland, islands N of UK, and to Kamchatka Peninsula (NE Russia).

Descriptive notes

47–63 cm; male 1367–2000 g, female 1113–1923 g; wingspan 86–102 cm. Slightly smaller, shorter-necked and shorter-billed than S. mollissima,... read more


Considered to be generally less vocal than S. mollissima and differs from latter in that... read more


Marine; generally breeds on adjacent land, on freshwater lakes, pools, bogs and small rivers of... read more

Food and feeding

Molluscs, crustaceans, insect larvae (e.g. chironomids), echinoderms and other marine invertebrates (e.g. worms up to 30 mm long); little... read more


Starts Jun, e.g. median nest initiation date 14–22 Jun in C Canadian Arctic, eggs laid 15–28 Jun on Igloolik I (Northwest... read more


Migratory, although some populations only partially so, moving away from breeding areas in mid Aug... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common and locally abundant; difficulty of access to areas it frequents gives general idea that is less abundant than it really is,... read more

Recommended citation

Carboneras, C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). King Eider (Somateria spectabilis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 3 April 2020).