Environmental Issues > Wildlife Main Page > All Wildlife Documents

Wildlife on the BrinkAlaska : Spectacled Eider
AlaskaNorthwestCaliforniaRockies/PrairieSouthwestMidwestSoutheastNortheastHawaiiInternational
Spectacled EiderSpecies Gallery

Spectacled Eider
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Somateria fischeri

STATUS: Threatened

HABITAT: Shorelines, islands and meadows in coastal tundra (summer); pack ice between St. Lawrence and St. Matthew islands in the Bering Sea (winter)

LIFE HISTORY: Spends most of life at sea, returning to land only from mid-May to June to breed. Distinctive white eye patches most prominent in adult males.

THREATS: Oil and gas development in native breeding habitat

FORMER RANGE: Most of coastal Alaska, from Nushagak Peninsula to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

CURRENT U.S. POPULATION: 7,000-8,000 breeding pairs

Large and strikingly beautiful marine diving ducks, "specs" resemble puffins in their shape and unique facial markings. They are true sea ducks that spend most of their lives on the water; they make landfall only to nest on wet coastal tundra.
Spectacled eiders have been in dramatic decline since the 1970s. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists the spectacled eider as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. However, the government has never declared any critical habitat for eiders under the Endangered Species Act in the Arctic, so leaving the bird's onshore habitat is subject more vulnerable to degradation from oil and gas development.
NRDC is fighting energy development in the Western Arctic Reserve, where the coastal wetlands provide nesting grounds for the spectacled eider and millions of other shorebirds and waterfowl, and is working on a plan to develop new wildlife reserves on Alaska's coastal plains.
AlaskaNorthwestCaliforniaRockies/PrairieSouthwestMidwestSoutheastNortheastHawaiiInternational
Photos: Alaska © PhotoDisc; polar bear © Steve Amstrup, Alaska Image Library, USFWS; spectacled eider © Chris Dau, Alaska Image Library, USFWS; beluga whale © Corbis; yellow-billed loon © Getty Images
Feature Home Print Version Alaska Northwest California Rockies/Prairie Southwest Midwest Southeast Northeast Hawaii International Polar Bear Spectacled Eider Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Yellow-Billed Loon

Sign up for NRDC's online newsletter

See the latest issue >

Donate to NRDC
Give the Gift That Will Make a Difference: Den Defender

NRDC Gets Top Ratings from the Charity Watchdogs

Charity Navigator awards NRDC its 4-star top rating.
Worth magazine named NRDC one of America's 100 best charities.
NRDC meets the highest standards of the Wise Giving Alliance of the Better Business Bureau.


Donate now >

Switchboard Blogs

Grid Modernization and Public Lands
posted by Carl Zichella, 10/20/14
Montana Rejects Wolf Stamp
posted by Zack Strong, 10/17/14
EPA approves new pesticide combination Enlist Duo, NRDC files suit
posted by Sylvia Fallon, 10/15/14

Related Stories

Return of the Black Rhinos
Namibia's black rhinos are now more valuable alive than dead.
In the Bay of Whales
Getting up close and personal with gray whales at Laguna San Ignacio.
Share | |