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BIRD OF THE WEEK
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Somateria spectabilis
POPULATION: 4.5 million
HABITAT: Nests near freshwater lakes and ponds; winters along rocky coasts and on open ocean.
The King Eider’s species name spectabilis is Latin for “remarkable display,” referring to the drake, or adult male, in its breeding plumage. During that time, the drake is unmistakable, with powder-blue head and neck, light green cheek, orange-yellow frontal lobe outlined in black, and a red bill.
The female eider sits tightly on her eggs and sometimes can be approached very closely. Females are so faithful to their nests that they sometimes go a week or more without feeding, and thus may lose significant amounts of weight while incubating.