Wednesday, June 28, 2017 Hot Action at Alaska Sealife Center

Seward, Alaska

There were more than just RED-LEGGED KITTIWAKES flying around the avian habitat this evening: hormones! The spectacular KING EIDER drake paddled after his vocal brown goddess, pausing frequently to puff out his chest and coo in his beautiful, bell-like voice. Around and around they swam, the courtship intensifying.

Suddenly the drake jumped on the hen’s back and they started to sink. He grabbed onto the feathers at the back of her head for stability and held on tight. It was too fast to tell, but I hope she snatched a breath before she submerged. Eiders are splendid divers, so this was not an attempt to drown his sweetie.

It seemed longer, but it was only 3 seconds before she came up for air. He held on briefly then let go. They swam off in different directions to regroup and preen. “North,” a sturdy young male and a lovely brown female are proof of last year’s successful breeding.

With good luck and ASLC’s expertise, there may be King Eider chicks again this year!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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