Spectacled Eiders Somateria fischeri were studied on the Colville River delta during 1994-1999, prior to oil field development, to document aspects of breeding biology that are poorly known, especially for northern-nesting populations. Both sexes arrived June 6-12; many males remained for only about 10 days. Density on the 178-km2 study area was 0.48 birds/km 2, comparable to densities reported from extensive surveys in western Alaska and Russia. Wetlands with numerous islands and peninsulas were utilised prior to incubation, a little-studied period. Females spent considerably more time feeding than males (56% vs. 18%). Males travelled, rested and were alert more than females, and actively defended females from intruding males. Whole nest survival was 31% and varied substantially between years, as has been demonstrated in other studies. Brood size showed no detectable decline from hatch about July 10 to mid-August, suggesting low mortality during this period, a sharp contrast with results from a study in a lead-contaminated area of western Alaska in which duckling survival to 30 days post-hatch was 34%. The likelihood of adverse impacts on this threatened species, from oil-related or other activities, can be reduced by industry avoiding areas, throughout the summer, with numerous islands, peninsulas and deep water. ?? Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust.
Additional publication details
Breeding ecology of Spectacled Eiders Somateria fischeri in Northern Alaska