We studied the distribution and activities of adult Steller's Eiders (Polysticta stelleri) during winter and spring on a deep-water embayment and a shallow lagoon along the Alaska Peninsula from September 1980 to May 1981. During the remigial molt, eiders were observed on Izembek Lagoon but not on Cold Bay. Following the flightless period, Izembek Lagoon continued to support 63-100% of eiders encountered during surveys. As ice cover on Izembek Lagoon increased, the number of birds decreased on Izembek Lagoon but increased on Cold Bay, suggesting that some eiders disperse to nearshore, deep-water habitats in close proximity to Izembek Lagoon during severe weather. Diurnal activity budgets indicated that the amount of time resting or engaged in aggression and alert activities was similar among locations, seasons, tidal stages, and sexes. In contrast, time spent foraging differed among seasons and locations but did not differ among tidal stages or sexes. Although time spent foraging was similar during winter and spring on Izembek Lagoon, eiders on Cold Bay foraged more during winter compared to spring. Synchronous diving was the dominant foraging strategy.
Additional publication details
Distribution and diurnal behavior of Steller's Eiders wintering on the Alaska Peninsula