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Species, Age and Sex Identification of Ducks Using Wing Plumage

King Eider


This species occurs only casually in the more northern states of the Atlantic Flyway. Although common in Alaska, few are shot. Only a few wings from known-aged birds were available for study. Therefore, although the information presented here is probably reliable, it should be used with caution. At present, a serious problem with king eiders is the lack of a reliable method for separating females and immatures of this species from the same age and sex classes of common eiders.

Wing Character Male Female
Adult Immature Immature Adult
Tertials Entirely black, sharply curved, and acutely pointed Very dark brown, usually edged with pale brown at tips only; tips are rather sharply pointed, often frayed and/or notched Very dark brown, slightly curved, and acutely pointed
Greater tertial coverts Broadly rounded and black Usually narrowly edged with pale brown; often frayed at tips Broadly rounded, very dark brown, broad pale brown edging
Greater secondary coverts Black, often with some white tipping Very dark brown; many white-tipped; and similar to those of adult female Very dark brown, many white-tipped; rest solid brown slightly faded at tips
Middle and lesser coverts Entirely white except for the leading edge of the wing Similar to adult female but edging is darker and somewhat narrower Broadly rounded, very dark brown, broad pale brown edging


JPG-Adult male king eider JPG-Adult female king eider JPG-Sub-adult male king eider JPG-Immature king eider

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