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




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