Monday, April 2, 2012

Steller's Eider

Male Polysticta stelleri
Hey look! Another Steller's animal! I think we're almost through all of them... Sea Cow, Sea Eagle, Sea Lion... and now an Eider.

Eiders are Sea Ducks, and there are four different species (Steller's Eider actually belongs to a separate genus from the other three). Today's animal is actually the smallest of the Eiders, measuring only around 18in in length. Males and females have different coloration- Males have white heads, light coloring on their sides and wings, and black barring. Females are more uniformly dark brown.

Steller's Eiders live in the Arctic, and are actually less tied to sea than others of their type. They tend to nest on the tundra near smaller bodies of water, and travel in very large flocks that can easily number into the thousands. Steller's Eiders are a migratory species. They breed further north in the summer, and then travel as far as 2,000miles to their southern wintering and molting grounds.

Unfortunately, Steller's Eiders are listed as Vulnerable. Habitat loss, climate change, hunting, and pollution are all factors have all contributed to their decline. They are protected in Russia and the United States, and captive breeding programs are underway.

IUCN Status : Vulnerable
Location : Arctic
Size : Length around 18in (45cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Anseriformes
Family : Anatidae -- Genus : Polysticta -- Species : P. stelleri

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