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Steller’s Eider male (Photo: Saulius Karalius, Fund of Lithuanian Sea museum)
Steller’s Eider is one of the rarest and most endangered sea ducks in the world, which might already waver on the brink of extinction. Several reasons for this decline might be due to some unknown problems in their remote breeding sites. The others are threats in wintering sites (such as disturbance from shipping or drowning in fishing nets).
The Baltic Sea is the most important wintering site for the Steller’s Eider in Europe. Several thousand individuals of this smallest eider species gather in the coastal waters of the Baltic States where they can be observed from the shore.
Since they feed on benthic organisms, they prefer relatively shallow waters where it is easier to reach the bottom when diving. They form compact flocks while staying at the wintering sites.
Males can be easily distinguished from other duck species by their white head with several greenish spots, black neck and chestnut chest. Both males and females have bluish bills.
Steller’s Eider (Polysticta stelleri)