• King Eider

    Common NameKing Eider
    Scientific NameSomateria spectabilis
    Type of ReportRare Species
    Date of Observation11/14/2017
    Number Observed2 (report is for IMMATURE MALE only)
    Reporting Observer's NameAlison Wagner
    Mailing Address111 Highland Drive
    P.O.Box 123
    Huntington, VT 05462
    United States
    Map It
    EmailEmail hidden; Javascript is required.
    Date Completed12/04/2017
    Names & Emails of Other Contributing Observers

    Aubrey Choquette
    Clem Nilan
    Tom Jiamachello
    Steve Antell

    Latitude of Observation44°03'16.4"N
    Longitude of Observation73°24'58.9"W
    Place NameDAR State Park
    Vermont eBird Checklist URLebird.org
    Time of Day02:06 PM
    Length of Time Observed2 hours, 15 minutes
    Maximum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)3,000
    Minimum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)1,500
    Noteworthy Weather Conditions

    As best as I can remember, it was partly sunny, cool and breezy.

    Optical Equipment Used for Observation

    Kowa on 60 power to start, then 20.

    Observer’s Previous Acquaintance With This or Similar Species

    I had been studying the female eider at The Champlain Bridge until about 1:30 PM, with Ted Murin (who sent a report for the female). We both stayed on her as she flew north and settled at DAR. This was the first time I had seen a female King Eider. I had not seen an immature male previously. I had seen a mature male once in Mass.

    I certify that that attachments included with this report were captured during this observation event​​.
    Description of Habitat

    Both birds were in center of lake, near Long-tailed Ducks, Scaups, Loons, and Scoters.

    Behaviors Observed

    While resting on the water, both birds seemed to “hold” their wings slightly up, versus laying flat against their backs. This created a sort of demarcation or space between their backs and the wings. Also, just before diving, both birds would lift and spread their wings slightly, giving the observers the impression they might take flight. The two birds stayed close together for most of the observation. At one point, the female seemed to make an aggressive move toward the second duck, which scurried a short distance away.

    Description of Vocalizations

    no vocalizations

    Verbal Narrative & Description of Observation

    Ted Murin and I watched the female eider fly and eventually settle on the water, about two miles north, at DAR. About a half hour later, Steve, Aubrey and I located the ducks and noticed the two stayed close to each other. We focused on the female first, checking off field marks as she moved in the water and different angles/sunlight revealed her markings. Then we turned our attention to the duck that was with her. Initially we were are baffled, as field markings did not match any scoter. We commented on how this duck did not look like any duck we would expect to find on the lake. Eventually, Aubrey resorted to an app and that is when we all realized there was a second King Eider!

    Relative Size & Shape

    It was same size as the female eider and did not have field marks consistent for any scoters. It was the same size, shape, and profile as the female and seemed to “sit low and appear portly” in the water like the female, giving us the impression it was a heavy bird.


    Roundish, dark head and thick neck. Slope from forehead to bill tip different than common eider. Bill appeared concave, also unlike a Common Eider bill. Dingy white chin.

    Feet & Bill

    Smallish concave orange/yellow bill, slightly unturned. The bill extended high onto its forehead, but not like a common eider.

    Upper Back

    Dark upper back

    Lower Back & Rump



    Dark like back and head.

    Breast, Belly, Flanks, Under Tail Coverts

    Breast was dingy white. Did not observe under tail coverts or belly.


    did not observe.

    IMPORTANT: What similar species were eliminated when making the identification and how was this bird different?

    Eliminated all scoters as field markings and size did not fit. Because it stayed close to the female, it was obvious that it was also an eider as aside from the plumage, the birds were nearly identical. These ducks dwarfed the Long-tailed Ducks that were nearby.

    Other Notes & Comments

    The King Eiders have remained on the lake in this location for two weeks (as I write this). Many people have seen the pair and have come to the same conclusion that these are female and immature male King Eider.

    This report was written from notes taken:Immediately After

    More Posts from VCE