King Eider Somateria spectabilis
Occurs throughout the island group, but is most common on west Spitsbergen. During the breeding season occurs sparsely and in small numbers. Larger flocks along the west coast shortly after arrival in April-May are common. In a few places along the west coast large flocks of males gather during moulting (July and August). Some can overwinter. Several hundred pairs breed.
Features: 55-63 cm (slightly smaller than Common Eider). 1.2 to 2.1 kg. The difference in appearance regarding sex, age and plumage through the year gives great variation. The young birds in their first autumn resemble females, but are more uniformly dark and lack the white in the speculum. Young males have a pale breast and some yellow in the bill. Adult males in eclipse plumage (late summer plumage) are almost black, but still have the feather sail in the back, a rather smaller knob on the bill and less bill colour.
Breeding: Most of the King Eiders nest solitarily near fresh water, and the young usually grow up in fresh water. The eggs are normally placed in a hollow lined with dark grey down and material found on site.