Royalty on the beach
Published: Mar 19, 2020Find out more about our pair of king eider ducks
Name: Kingy & Queenie
Age: Both are over 16 years old (that's a good age for a king eider!)
Species: King eiders (Somateria spectabilis)
When did they come to Living Coasts? The pair came from private collections and arrived at Paignton Zoo in 2003. They moved over to Living Coasts a few years later.
Can be identified by: They are the only two king eiders on Penguin Beach so quite easy to spot
Where can they be spotted: The pair spend most of their time on the beach but like to come out on the decking for late summer afternoons.
Personality Traits: A quiet pair of ducks who like to keep to themselves.
Queenie has brown plumage which unlike the males, doesn’t change throughout the year. She has a slimmer shaped head to the spectacled eiders, without the lighter circles around her eyes and her plumage doesn’t come as far down her beak.
Kingy displays a beautiful plumage during the breeding season and has a purple-grey head and feather points on his back. He will stay in this colourful plumage from early winter until mid-summer, when drakes will moult to a brown plumage.
Queenie continues to lay eggs every year but none have been fertile - it is likely that this is due to their age.
Did you know?
- King eiders can form large flocks on suitable coastal waters, with some flocks exceeding 100,000 birds
- This species dives for benthic invertebrates, such as crustaceans, polychaete worms, and molluscs, with mussels being a favoured food
- King eiders migrate to Arctic tundra to breed in June and July
- Males develop bright plumage to attract females during the breeding season
- They perform ritualised growling and head tossing that exposes their black chest