Migratory Birds: Population Trends of Eiders

The eiders that migrate through northwest Alaska nest at dispersed locations across northern Alaska and Canada. Because they are widespread it is difficult to get a good population estimate. Most of the population, however, migrates near Barrow during the spring and then again in the summer.

King (Somateria spectabilis) and Common (Somateria mollissima) eiders are important subsistence species in Alaska, Canada and Russia, yet relatively little was known about their population size, trends, movements or breeding biology. The NSB initiated studies in the 1990's to help fill these data gaps.

Aerial surveys showed that the King Eider population had declined, but very little was known about its breeding biology or specific migration routes or habitat use at sea. Several studies were initiated to learn more about the breeding biology, including reproductive success and habitat selection and use, of King Eiders. Comparisons were made in timing of nesting, nest success, and habitat use between an undeveloped site near Teshekpuk Lake and a developed site near Kuparuk oilfield.

Publications: Bentzen, R.L., Powell, A.N., and Suydam, R.S. 2008. Factors influencing nesting success of king eiders on Northern Alaska’s coastal plain. Journal of Wildlife Management 72:1781-1789.

Bentzen, R.L., Powell, A.N., Williams, T.D., and Kitaysky, A.S. 2008. Characterizing the nutritional strategy of incubating king eiders Somateria spectabilis in northern Alaska. Journal of Avian Biology 39:683-690.

Knoche, M.J., Powell, A.N., Quakenbush, L.T., Wooller, M.J., and Phillips, L.M. 2007. Further evidence for site fidelity to wing molt locations by king eiders: Integrating stable isotope analyses and satellite telemetry. Waterbirds 30:52-57.

Oppel, S., and Powell, A.N. 2008. Assigning king eiders to wintering regions in the Bering Sea using stable isotopes of feathers and claws. Marine Ecology Progress Series 373:149-156.

Oppel, S., Powell, A.N., and Dickson, D.L. 2008. Timing and distance of king eider migration and winter movements. The Condor 110:296-305.

Oppel, S., Dickson, D.L., and Powell, A.N. 2009. International importance of the eastern Chukchi Sea as a staging area for migrating king eiders. Polar Biology 32:775-783.

Phillips, L.M., and Powell, A.N. 2006. Evidence for wing molt and breeding site fidelity in king eiders. Waterbirds 29:148-153.

Phillips, L.M., Powell, A.N., and Rexstad, E.A. 2006. Large-scale movements and habitat characteristics of king eiders throughout the nonbreeding period. The Condor 108:887-900.

Phillips, L.M., Powell, A.N., Taylor, E.J., and Rexstad, E.A. 2007. Use of the Beaufort Sea by king eiders breeding on the North Slope of Alaska. Journal of Wildlife Management 71:1892-1898.

Powell, A.N., Suydam, R. and McGuire, R.L. 2005. Breeding biology of king eiders on the coastal plain of Northern Alaska. OCS Study MMS 2005-060 Final Report, 40 pp. Suydam, R. S., D. L. Dickson, J. B. Fadely, and L. T. Quakenbush. 2000. Population declines of King and Common Eiders of the Beaufort Sea. Condor 102:219–222.

Data and Resources

Additional Info

Field Value
ISO Topics biota
Primary Contact Robert Suydam (Robert.Suydam@north-slope.org)
Primary Organization North Slope Borough
Other Organizations Coastal Marine Institute UAF, US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Organization Types Academic, Federal, Local, State
Geo-keywords North Slope
Start Date 1990-01-01
Created February 23, 2016, 01:41 (AKST)
Last Updated September 28, 2022, 15:04 (AKDT)