American Game Birds

Illustrating More Than One Hundred Species In Natural Colors

By Chester A. Reed

Page 18

EIDER (Somateria dresseri), These very large and handsome ducks, measuring 24 in. in length, live quite extensively upon small fish as well as mollusks and insects; their flesh is consequently tough and very unpalatable, but they are nevertheless valuable birds, for they furnish the eider down of commerce, this being gathered from their nests on northern islands. This species breeds from Maine to Labrador and in the southern half of Hudson Bay. Another species, NORTHERN EIDER (Somateria mollissima borealis), which differs from this in having the soft basal portion of the bill pointed instead of rounded, breeds farther north and in Greerland. Both species winter south on the coast as far as Massachusetts. Their flight is rather heavy and is usually performed in Indian file.


PACIFIC EIDERS (Somateria v-nigra) are plumaged just like the Northern, except that the male has a black V-shaped mark extending back from below the bill. Pacific Eiders are found chiefly on the coasts and islands of the Behring Sea and adjacent portions of the Arctic Ocean.


SPECTACLED EIDERS (Arctonetta fischeri) are very locally distributed on coasts of the Behring Sea. The male has a very peculiar formation of short velvety feathers on the head, while the female can easily be distinguished from other species because the base of the bill is wholly feathered.


STELLER DUCK (Polysticta stelleri) is a smaller duck, measuring 17 in. in length. The male, shown in the pen sketch, has a black throat and rusty colored under parts. The female is brownish similar to the Eiders but of course much smaller. These ducks are not uncommon in Behring Sea and adjacent waters.