Description: Known for its distinctive head shape and coloring, the drake has a large head with a distinctive bulge which slopes steeply to the bill. Drakes are blue-gray with white cheeks and a shield of orange and black feathers surrounding the tops of their bills. The neck and chest are white, the back is black, the flanks and wing tops are white, and the legs and feet are yellow-orange. Hens are brown with black crescents and have bulge-free gray bills and grayish feet and legs. Average size: 18-25 inches. Average weight: 2 ¾-4 ¼ pounds.
Science: King eiders breed in coastal areas near the Arctic Circle and along the Hudson Bay, using tundra habitats near water. Their migration starts in July, when they form huge family groups that can number in the tens of thousands, and winter along the Pacific coast of Alaska and the Atlantic coast from Virginia to the Labrador Islands, where they favor rocky coastal shorelines and open oceans. They eat mostly invertebrates and can dive as deep as 180 feet to feed. Because of the remoteness of their breeding range, their population is difficult to determine, but experts believe it is stable.
Hunting: Because of their unique appearance, king eiders are a favorite among collectors. As with common eiders, they are mostly hunted from boats using sea duck hunting techniques. The eating quality is poor.