Recently I went looking for the king–the King Eider, that is. King Eiders are an Arctic species, usually seen only in Alaska in the United States. Very rarely they will wander to the shores of New England in the winter, however. Over 25 years ago one was seen in Rhode Island waters, off the shores of Sachuest Point National Wildlife refuge. That was the first one I had ever seen until this winter, when a male King Eider started floating along the Cape Cod Canal with a bunch of Common Eiders.
Common Eiders are slightly larger than the King, but not as colorful, lovely though they be. The eiders were in a large raft hanging around Herring Run, where it flows into the canal, just south of Bourne, Massachusetts, on the west side of the canal. It was easy to get close to them, as they seemed not to mind people sitting on the rocks beside the water. The Common Eiders were showing some dominance and pair bonding behavior, as males chased one another and lifted up in display of their breasts. Young males were also among the group, the first year males having more dark areas in their plumage than the second year males. Also among the eiders were some Red-breasted Mergansers.
Enjoy these pictures of the King and his cohort.