Steller’s Eider

Polysticta stelleri

The smallest of the world’s four species of Eiders, Steller’s Eiders are rare in the Pribilofs. Steller’s Eiders breed in scattered locations along the Northeast coast of Russia, The Yukon Delta and near Barrow. They winter along the Aleutian Chain, east to Kodiak, and west to the Kamtchatka Peninsula. Historically Steller’s Eiders were uncommon around the Pribilofs in winter and often individuals lingered through the spring around the town harbor. In the last six years however, Steller’s Eiders have been exceedingly scarce (recorded in late fall of 2003, 2004, and throughout the season of 2005 and not at all in 2002). The identification of females of this species is based upon the small size, very dark body, white eyering and large all-dark bill. In flight this species shows a purplish speculum, bordered in white. Steller’s Eiders should be looked for within flocks of Harlequin Ducks. Especially good spots over the years have been in the town harbor, and along the rocky points that ring Northeast Point.