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Spectacled Eider Somateria fischeri
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Distribution and population
This species breeds along the coasts of north-east Siberia, Russia and east from the Leni Delta to north Alaska, USA. Its wintering grounds have only recently been discovered in an otherwise unbroken sea of ice halfway between St Lawrence and St Matthew Islands in the Bering sea (Balogh 1996, Petersen 1996).

Population justification
The global population is estimated at c.330,000-390,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006). Although a massive decline of over 90% in breeding birds has been reported in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska (Stehn et al. 1993), no similar decline has been noted in Russia and 155,000 birds were counted on its wintering grounds in 1995 (Balogh 1996). The population in Russia has more recently been estimated at c.100-10,000 breeding pairs and c.50-1,000 wintering individuals (Brazil 2009) although there is a degree of uncertainty in these estimates. Surveys in north Alaska during 1993-1995 indicated 7,000-10,000 breeding birds, with no indication of a declining trend. Recent survey work has discovered a huge concentration of this species in the Bering sea south of St Lawrence Island (Petersen et al. 1999). Estimates suggest that at least 333,000 birds winter in single-species flocks in the pack ice of the Bering Sea (Petersen et al. 1999), representing a total population estimate similar to that of c.400,000 individuals made during the 1970s.

Trend justification
The overall trend is suspected to be decreasing (Wetlands International 2006).

This species breeds on small lakes, pools, bogs and streams of the tundra. It mainly feeds on molluscs but will also take crustaceans, with a more varied diet in summer including insects, arachnids, berries and seeds. It feeds by diving, and will pluck or dabble on the surface. Breeding begins in May or June in single pairs or loose groups (del Hoyo et al. 1992).

Conservation Actions Underway
In 2000 the US Fish and Wildlife Service designated 62,386 km² of critical coastal habitat for the conservation of this species (Anon. 2001a).

Balogh, G. 1996. Secret Spectacled Eider wintering grounds found. WWF Arctic Bulletin: 14-15.

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A.; Sargatal, J. 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 1: Ostrich to Ducks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Petersen, M. R. 1996. Satellite telemetry solves eider mystery. Endangered Species Bulletin 21(5): 7.

Petersen, M. R.; Larned, W. W.; Douglas, D. C. 1999. At-sea distribution of Spectacled Eiders: a 120-year-old mystery resolved. The Auk 116: 1009-1020.

Stehn, R. A.; Dau, C. P.; Conant, B.; Butler, W. I., Jr. 1993. Decline of Spectacled Eiders nesting in Western Alaska. Arctic 46: 264-277.

Wetland International - China Office. 2006. Relict Gull surveys in Hongjianao, Shaanxi Province. Newsletter of China Ornithological Society 15(2): 29.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Benstead, P., Harding, M., Calvert, R.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Somateria fischeri. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, Swans)
Species name author (Brandt, 1847)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 568,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species