Steller’s Eider

Steller's Eider

Breeding Adult Male Steller’s Eiders are a striking color and pattern. They are patterned black and white on top and buffy orange underneath.

They have white heads, thick, black eyerings, and light-green patches behind the head and in front of the eyes and have a thick black band around their throats and black backs and rumps. Their black and white striped wings also have a white border. They are buffy orange underneath with a black spot on their shoulder. Their bills, legs, and feet are blue-gray.

Adult Females are dark brown with a light white eyering.

Non-breeding males resemble females, but they are light brown. They both have the same blue-black bordered white secondary flight feathers and white underwings. 

  • Polysticta stelleri
  • Length: 17 – 19 in (43 – 48 cm)
  • Weight: 27.2 oz (771 g)
  • Wingspan: 28 – 30 in (71 – 76 cm)


Steller’s Eiders have three breeding locations – one in Alaska and two in Arctic Russia. Nonbreeding populations spend their time in northern Norway, the east coast of Russia, and southwest Alaska.

Habitat And Diet

You can find Steller’s Eiders in very limited habitats. They’re birds of the coastlines of Alaska and Eastern Russia, and they mostly stay in coastal bays and lagoons during winter and when molting.

Look for them around tidal flats when molting because that’s where they stay when they rest, as they’re flightless at this time. During nesting season, they remain in coastal tundra with sedge marshes and freshwater ponds. 

Steller’s Eiders usually stay on the water’s surface when they forage. Sometimes, they stay close to shore and catch crustaceans, worms, mollusks, and mussels. On breeding grounds, they feast on beetles, small crustaceans, seeds of grasses, sedges, and other plants.

They may occasionally dive into deeper water to take prey from the water column and the sea floor.

Steller’s Eider Calls:

Stellar’s Eiders breed in northern Alaska and spend the winter in southern Alaska. They also are found in northern Eurasia.


Nests of Steller’s Eiders are mostly found on raised ridges or hummocks around marshy tundra surrounded by moss, lichen, and grasses and near water.

The female is responsible for building the nest using grasses, sedges, moss, and weeds. She may add her own down feathers when she has laid the third egg. She lays from five to ten eggs that hatch after twenty-six days. 

Fun Fact:

The Inupiat Eskimos call Steller’s Eider “the bird that sat in the campfire” because of the male’s burnt orange color of its belly.