Common Species of Sea Ducks

As promised, here is a continuation of last week’s blog post about sea ducks! If you want an overview, go ahead and read that one first. Today, we’re going to be taking a closer look at some of the species of sea ducks.


Common Eider Duck
King Eider Duck

Common eiders can often be found resting in large flocks on rocky shores in the far North around Alaska, Canada, and Greenland. When they aren’t resting, they are diving down to pry mussels from seabed rocks. Males have distinctive white and black feathers and females have warm brown feathers.

King eiders can be recognized by their distinctive bills. Males have bright orange bills that are relatively small. Females have black bills. King eiders can be found in the high Arctic, frequently alongside other species of sea ducks.

Spectacled eiders gather in small flocks and live on the coasts of Alaska and in the Bering Sea. They prefer to nest and gather in boggy tundras uninhabited and inaccessible to humans and have very soft and quiet calls, so there is a sense of mystery surrounding these ducks. They are named for the clear black markings around their eyes which look like glasses.

Steller’s eider is the smallest and rarest of the eiders. They live in marshes and ponds in and near Alaska and rarely can be spotted alongside other sea duck species. Both males and females are roughly the same size and weight but females have brown feathers and males have black, white, and pale brown feathers with a black patch of feathers around their eyes.


Brazilian Merganser Duck
Brazilian Merganser

Brazilian mergansers can be found on the inland waters of Brazil. They are extremely endangered, with just a few hundred in the wild and some in captivity. They have large territories that they refuse to leave, even when the quality is in decline. Brazilian mergansers are one of the species suffering from deforestation and farming in Brazil, with soil runoff from both filling their rivers.

Scaly-sided mergansers live on Northern Chinese and Russian coasts, although they winter in Central Russia and China. They get their name from the distinctive scale pattern on their feathers for both male and female. Males are black and white and females are grey and white.



Male and Female Merganser
Hooded Merganser

Common mergansers have thin and hooked bills and thin wings. Females have crests of feathers on the backs of their heads, while males have sleek green head feathers. Although they are sea ducks, common mergansers rarely can be spotted at sea. They prefer inland freshwater lakes and rivers across North America.

Hooded mergansers are fairly small ducks with large black and white or brown crests at the back of their heads which make their heads look much larger than they really are. These hoods are collapsable. Hooded mergansers live in freshwater rivers and ponds in Southern Canada and the United States. They spend their winters at sea.

Red-breasted mergansers have shaggy crests of feathers for both the male and female. They swim with their head below the water to catch small fish. They can be found in both salt- and freshwater marshes and rivers along the coasts of Mexico, the United States, and Canada.

Check back later this week to read about more wonderful sea duck species!


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