Thursday, April 7, 2016

King Eider

Rare King Eider at Point Lepreau

King Eider - Female
During most spring migrations we might see one King Eider pass by Point Lepreau.  So you can see why having one rest off the point for over a week is exciting.  This one is a female and makes it interesting for us to be able to study her identifying features and compare her to our more common, female Common Eider.

The King Eider winters off the rocky coasts of the North Atlantic from the NE United States north to Ungava.  And, also along the northern coast of Norway and the Faroe Islands.  Their migration is spectacular, sending them far north to the uppermost Arctic islands of Canada and Greenland to breed.  This species is more common much north of New Brunswick but rare here.  

King Eider - Female
The King Eider is a little smaller than our abundant (in this area) Common Eider.  The female is buffier in colour, compared to the more reddish brown Common Eider female.  The female King Eider has chevrons on her flanks contrasting to the vertical barring on the sides of the female Common Eider.  The head is shaped differently, too.  The King Eider has a rounder head and shorter bill.  The head of the Common Eider is much more wedge-shaped and the horny part of the bill goes almost to the eye.  In the King Eider, the horny part stops about half way to the eye.  The bill of the female King Eider is a solid dark gray colour.

King Eider - Female
Below is the female Common Eider.  Notice the wedge-shaped head and the horny bill projection going almost to the eye.  The vertical barring on the sides is also visible.  

Common Eider - Female
Photographing sea birds is often challenging.  Conditions yesterday were difficult with heavy winds, very cold conditions and the long distance to the birds.  The Nikon P900 performed remarkably well considering what I was attempting to do with it.

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