King Eider

Somateria spectabilis (Linnaeus, 1758) KE KINEI 2070
Family: Anseriformes > Anatidae

King Eider, Chris Knights

This handsome seaduck is a scarce visitor from its northern breeding grounds. Although it may be recorded at any time of year, most records are from northern Britain in the winter months.

The female King Eider does not feed very often during the three week incubation period. One female was not observed to leave her nest for seven days, until being flushed by an Arctic Fox.

Select a topic for more facts and statistics about the King Eider

  • Breeding
  • Winter


King Eider identification is usually straightforward.

Develop your bird ID skills with our training courses

Our interactive online courses are a great way to develop your bird identification skills, whether you're new to the hobby or a competent birder looking to hone your abilities.

Browse training courses

Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.


We have no population estimates for this scarce species.


King Eiders are scarce vagrants but several individuals winter most years, usually associated with Eider flocks and often in northern Britain.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2


This vagrant has been recorded in several atlases so we have been able to map distribution changes. However, as a rarity these may not show a consistent pattern of change.


King Eider is a scarce vagrant, with many records relating to long-staying individuals that may be seen in almost any month of the year.

Weekly occurence of King Eider from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.


Lifecycle and body size information about King Eider, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.


Sample sizes are too small to report Productivity and Nesting statistics for this species.


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Welsh: Hwyaden Fwythblu'r Gogledd
Catalan: èider reial
Czech: kajka královská
Danish: Kongeederfugl
Dutch: Koningseider
Estonian: kuninghahk
Finnish: kyhmyhaahka
French: Eider à tête grise
German: Prachteiderente
Hungarian: cifra pehelyréce
Icelandic: Æðarkóngur
Irish: Éadar Taibhseach
Italian: Re degli edredoni
Latvian: krašna pukpile
Lithuanian: skiauteretoji gaga
Norwegian: Praktærfugl
Polish: (edredon) turkan
Portuguese: êider-real
Slovak: kajka hrbozobá
Slovenian: pisana gaga
Spanish: Éider real
Swedish: praktejder

Links to more information from

Would you like to search for another species?