Movement of King Eiders from Breeding Grounds on Banks Island, NWT, to Moulting and Wintering Areas

D. Lynne Dickson

Prairie and Northern Region

Canadian Wildlife Service
Technical Report Series Number 516

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Table of Contents

Document Information


Document Information

Canadian Wildlife Service

Canadian Wildlife Service Technical Report Series

This series of reports, introduced in 1986, contains technical and scientific information on Canadian Wildlife Service projects. The reports are intended to make available material that is either of interest to a limited audience or is too extensive to be accommodated in scientific journals or in existing CWS series.

Demand for the Technical Reports is usually limited to specialists in the fields concerned. Consequently, they are produced regionally and in small quantities. They are numbered according to a national system but can be obtained only from the address given on the back of the title page. The recommended citation appears on the title page.

Technical Reports are available in CWS libraries and are listed in the catalogue of Library and Archives Canada, which is available in science libraries across the country. They are printed in the two official languages.

Movement of King Eiders from Breeding Grounds on Banks Island, NWT, to Moulting and Wintering Areas

D. Lynne Dickson[1]

Technical Report Series  No. 516
2012
Canadian Wildlife Service
Prairie and Northern Region

This report may be cited as follows:
Dickson, D.L. 2012. Movement of King Eiders from Breeding Grounds on Banks Island, NWT, to Moulting and Wintering Areas. Technical Report Series No. 516. Canadian Wildlife Service, Edmonton, Alberta. v + 141 p.

Online at www.ec.gc.ca/publications

Copies of this report can be obtained by writing to the following address:

Canadian Wildlife Service
Environment Canada
P.O. Box 2310
5019 – 52 Street, 4th Floor
Yellowknife NT  X1A 2P7

Photos: © (Cindy Wood, Lynne Dickson and Phil Tay); Environment Canada

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Abstract

This study was part of a long-term program to document spatiotemporal characteristics of migration of King Eiders (Somateria spectabilis) from breeding areas in the western Canadian Arctic, and to identify key areas used by the eiders during various stages of their life history. In mid-June 2008, 16 males and 13 females were captured and implanted with satellite transmitters at Banks Island, Northwest Territories, Canada. Movements were subsequently tracked by Argos satellites. With the exception of one eider shot in July during moult migration, and another that died on a wintering area in January, the remaining 27 transmitters provided locations for a period of 13 months on average.

Male King Eiders departed from the breeding grounds in late June and arrived at moulting areas to the west of the continent during the first half of August. Females departed from the breeding grounds about a month later than the males and arrived at moulting areas in the third week of August. The primary staging area for both sexes during moult migration was the west coast of Banks Island, where males and females staged an average of 25 ± 7 and 18 ± 8 days, respectively. Other areas used for staging during moult migration, but to much lesser extent, included off Cape Bathurst, NWT, and Smith Bay, Alaska, in the Beaufort Sea; off Alaska in the Chukchi Sea; and off the east side of Chukotsk Peninsula, Russia, in the Bering Sea.

All but one King Eider moulted in the Bering Sea: 8 off the coast of Alaska and 19 off the coast of Russia. The remaining eider moulted in Kolyuchin Bay on the north side of Chukotsk Peninsula. All but two eiders remained in the Bering Sea for the winter: 15 off Chukotsk Peninsula, 9 along the south shore of Bristol Bay, Alaska, and 1 off Cape Olyutor, Russia. The other two eiders wintered in the North Pacific off Kodiak Island, Alaska.

Eiders began to move northward as early as February 4. However, they did not depart from their wintering region until the fourth week of April on average. The eiders that migrated to breeding areas in North America staged at three locations during spring migration: off Alaska in the eastern Chukchi Sea; off Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula in the southeast Beaufort Sea and off Banks Island in the eastern Beaufort Sea. The most heavily used of these staging areas was the southeast Beaufort Sea, where all of the eiders that returned to breeding areas in North America (n=18) staged for an average of 30 ± 9 days. Peak numbers occurred in the southeast Beaufort Sea from May 8 to June 4.

In the second year, all females returned to within 2.2 km of the area where they had nested the previous year (mean 1.0 ± 0.6, n=10). By contrast, males (n=11) were scattered across the breeding range from the Lena River Delta, Russia, to Victoria Island, Canada. Date of arrival of females on their nesting grounds on Banks Island in 2009 ranged from June 6 to June 17.

Eiders moulted within 2 to 44 km of the site used the previous year (mean 18 ± 16 km, n=8). 

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Acknowledgements

I am grateful to the following people for their help with this study: Helen Trefry, Tim Bowman and Jessica Beaubier, who captured the eiders; Pam Tuomi, who surgically implanted the transmitters; Hilary Cooke and Gillian Turney, who created the maps; Garnet Raven, who assisted with initial steps in data summary; Vicky Johnston, who provided helpful comments on the manuscript; and Blake Bartzen, who both assisted with the data summary and provided comments to improve the manuscript. The study was jointly funded by the Sea Duck Joint Venture, ConocoPhillips Alaska, ConocoPhillips Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Service, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Inuvialuit Wildlife Management Advisory Council, with logistical support from Natural Resources Canada’s Polar Continental Shelf Program.

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Introduction

Development of offshore oil production facilities is currently underway off the Alaskan Beaufort Sea coast and is expected to expand to the Canadian Beaufort Sea and eastern Chukchi Sea in the near future. Several hundreds of thousands of King Eiders (Somateria spectabilis) migrate across the Beaufort and Chukchi seas on route between wintering areas west of the continent and breeding areas in northern Alaska and Canada (Thompson and Person 1963; Barry 1986; Johnson and Herter 1989; Suydam et al. 1997, 2000; Alexander et al. 1997). Little is known about the specific migration corridors and habitats used by King Eiders during migration. Consequently, impacts of expanded oil and gas development on this sea duck species are difficult to predict. This study provides information about the location and timing of use of migration corridors by the King Eider, so that analysts can better predict and mitigate any adverse effects of offshore petroleum development on subject populations. The study also identifies affiliations between wintering, breeding and moulting grounds, thereby helping to define population units. Such information is essential to effectively manage this harvested species.

This study comprises the last year of a long-term program inititated in 1997 that uses satellite technology to track the year-around movement of King Eiders from breeding areas in Canada’s Western Arctic. The program objectives were as follows: (1) to determine specific migration routes for western Canadian breeding population of King Eiders; (2) to document temporal and spatial relationships of migration corridors to pack ice, islands and other physical features in the Beaufort Sea; and (3) to identify wintering, staging and moulting areas, and their affiliation with specific breeding areas.

Prior to 2008, 46 King Eiders had been tagged on nesting grounds east of the Beaufort Sea: 41 eiders on central Victoria Island in 1997, 1998, 2003 and 2004, and 5 eiders on Banks Island in 2000. Although earlier tagging provided ample information on summer and fall movement of King Eiders westward across the Beaufort Sea, it provided only a limited amount of information about eider spring migration. Consequently, the main focus of tagging in 2008 was to obtain daily locations of King Eiders during spring migration. Siksik Lake (72°23' N; 125°05' W) on Banks Island, Northwest Territories, was chosen as the capture site because it was a known breeding area and only five eiders had previously been tagged there. Results from tagging King Eiders in 2008 are presented in this report. For results of the previous five years of deployment of satellite transmitters, see Dickson et al. (1998, 1999, 2001, 2006, 2007).

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Methods

King Eiders were captured from June 11 to June 18, 2008, on their breeding grounds near Siksik Lake (72°23' N; 125°05' W) on the west coast of Banks Island, Northwest Territories, Canada (Fig. 1). The eiders were captured using 2.6 m x 12.0 m mist nets that had a mesh size of 127 mm. Two or three nets were strung together in a V- or U-shape and placed on the upwind side of a pond with eiders present. The nets were positioned just above the water to ensure no duck would drown if it tried to dive under the net. Two or three pairs of decoys were placed within about 1 m of the downwind side of the net. Two or more observers crouched in a depression or behind a ridge downwind of the pond and waited for the eiders to return to the pond and approach the decoys. Once the ducks were settled and near the nets, the observers flushed them into the nets by shouting and running towards them. The ducks were carried back to camp in cat cages fitted with a layer of wire mesh to keep the bird off the bottom, dry and clean.

A veterinarian and assistant surgically implanted the transmitters following techniques described by Korschgen et al. (1996). Isoflurane administered with compressed air was used as the anaesthetic, and bupivicaine/lidocaine (2:1) as the local analgesic. The transmitter was implanted in the abdominal cavity of the bird with the antenna exiting dorsally near the base of the tail. The transmitter was anchored in place by stitching the eider's skin to a dacron collar fitted around the base of the antenna. Each individual was held in captivity for 2 to 3 h following surgery to ensure recovery from anaesthesia. Blood and muscle tissue samples were collected from each bird during surgery for genetics studies at the Alaska Biological Science Center in Anchorage, Alaska.

The transmitters (designed and produced by Microwave Telemetry Inc. Columbia, MD) were approximately 55 x 35 x 10 mm in size and weighed about 43 g. The transmitters were programmed to send signals to Argos satellites over a 4- to 6-h period every 3 days through until December, every 8 days during the winter, daily during spring migration, then every 3 days until the transmitters quit functioning (Table 1). These duty cycles (i.e. period of transmission followed by period of no transmission) were chosen to maximize the amount of information obtained when the birds were migrating, particularly during the target period of spring migration, while preserving battery life when the birds were stationary.

Information relayed in the transmitter signals included location of bird, body temperature and battery voltage. The latter two parameters were useful in determining why a transmitter stopped functioning. A drop in body temperature indicated the bird was dead, whereas a sudden drop in voltage indicated the battery was depleted.

Both the Standard and Auxiliary Location Processing Service available from Argos were used to obtain eider locations. Argos provided an assessment of the accuracy of each eider location (ARGOS 2007). Locations accurate to within a 1500-m radius, were rated by Argos as class 1, 2 or 3, the latter being the most accurate (to within 250 m). Locations with an accuracy of > 1500 m radius were class 0, and those with no estimate of accuracy (because < 4 messages reached the satellites) were class A, B or Z.

Usually several locations were received during each 4- to 6-h transmission period. The most accurate and plausible location of each individual eider within a transmission period was selected using a logical filter program developed by David C. Douglas (United States Geological Survey, Alaskan Science Centre, Juneau, AK). First, any implausible locations were filtered out based on where the bird was during previous and subsequent locations. Then locations were selected within each transmission period based on the highest Argos accuracy rating. If there was more than one location with the same accuracy rating (e.g. five locations with class 3 accuracy rating in a 6-h transmission period), the location with the most messages that reached the satellite was selected.

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Method of Analysis

The data were divided into seasons based on migratory movement of the birds as follows: spring migration, breeding, moult migration, moulting, fall migration and wintering.

Migration began when the bird left an area and did not return (Petersen and Flint 2002). In most cases the first distance travelled was > 50 km, although this was not always the case for moult migration, which was defined as when the eider left the nesting area for the ocean and did not return (Phillips et al. 2007). Similarly, end of migration was the last of a series of directional movements, and that movement was generally > 50 km. The exception was if a bird shifted southwards after January 1, in which case it was considered part of winter movements rather than fall migration (Oppel et al. 2008). Spring migration ended when the bird moved on shore to a nesting area between early and late June. Some males remained offshore upon returning to the breeding area in the second year, so for those birds it was not possible to determine dates when spring migration ended and moult migration began.

Nest location was where the bird remained stationary at least 10 days during the nesting period (Petersen et al. 2006). Nesting period for Banks and Victoria islands was based on Cotter et al. (1997). Moult area was defined as locations < 15 km apart over a period of > 20 days following moult migration (Oppel et al. 2008). Moulting and nesting locations were mapped using all values obtained during the relatively stationary period to calculate a centroid for each bird. Centroid locations were determined using the Mean Center tool within Spatial Statistics in ArcGIS.

Date of departure on migration was the date that the bird was last seen on the nesting/moulting/wintering area (Petersen et al. 1999). Similarly, date of arrival was the date the bird was first seen in the area. Number of days of migration = date first seen at destination – date last seen at area of departure – 1 duty cycle. For example, number of days of fall migration = date first seen on wintering area – date last seen on moulting area –1 duty cycle. Duration of stay on nesting, staging, moulting or wintering area = last known date in the area – first known date in the area + 1 duty cycle. If there was a gap of > 10 days between locations at time of departure or arrival, the data were not used.

During migration, if a bird stopped and remained in an area for at least 7 days (Petersen and Flint 2002), with no directional movement > 50 km, it was considered to be at a staging area.

Results are reported as means ± standard deviation (SD).

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Results and Discussion

The open-water lead system in the southeast Beaufort Sea was well developed by the time we arrived on June 10 in 2008. As viewed on our flight from Inuvik to Banks Island, there was a wide expanse of open water off the landfast ice edge all along Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula that stretched all the way to Banks Island, and northward up the west coast (Fig. 1). The small ponds at Siksik Lake were ice free, although lakes were still covered in ice. There were several pairs of King Eiders in the wetlands just east of Siksik Lake, so we began trapping immediately. By the time we were finished on June 18, nest initiation had begun. The last female caught had a brood patch and laid an egg, complete with shell, while recovering from the anaesthetic. Prior to that, we captured two females, one on June 13 and the other on June 16, that both laid an egg with no shell while recovering from anaesthesia. Ideally, we should have started capturing the ducks a few days earlier in 2008.

We implanted satellite transmitters in 17 male and 13 female King Eiders (Table 2). Based on the temperature sensor in the transmitter, one male died within a day or two, likely due to complications from surgery, another male was shot at Point Barrow, Alaska, in late July during moult migration (transmitter recovered), and a female died the following January. All 27 remaining eiders survived at least until their transmitter quit functioning.

The transmitters started sending signals to Argos satellites within 24 hours of implantation. Excluding the three eiders that died, transmitters provided locations for a period of 13 months on average (range: 6–23 months, n=27) (Table 2). The best-performing transmitter (#80928) lasted until January 2010, providing 187 locations over a 19-month period. Another transmitter (#80907) lasted longer, but for an unknown reason it missed four months of transmissions during the first winter.

Appendix A contains the best-quality eider location per duty cycle throughout the life of each transmitter. Appendix B contains a series of maps that track the movement of each eider individually throughout the period its transmitter was functioning.

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Nesting

Immediately following marking, one pair moved to central Banks Island and another pair to the river delta just north of Siksik Lake, but all others remained within a few kilometres of Siksik Lake during the nest initiation period (see insert in Fig. 2).

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Moult Migration

Mean date of departure of males from the breeding grounds was June 27 ± 5 days (Table 3; Appendix C1). Migration to the moulting areas in the Bering and Chukchi seas took an average of 39 ± 6 days (range 28–49 days, n=15), with peak period of arrival on the moulting area in the second week of August (mean August 9 ± 6 days).

The first stop during moult migration for all but one male was the staging area off the west coast of Banks Island, where males spent an average of 25 ± 7 days (range 13–36 days, n=15). Once departed from the nearby staging area, movement across the Beaufort Sea for most males took about a week. Exceptions were three eiders that staged for 2–4 weeks off Cape Bathurst, NWT, one for a week off Jones Islands and one for a week off Smith Bay, Alaska (Fig. 3; Appendix C2a). About half of the males stopped again for 8 ± 5 days (range 3–16 days, n=10) off Alaska in the Chukchi Sea. Three other males staged in the Bering Sea off Chukotsk Peninsula, Russia, for just over a week.

All but one of the females departed the breeding area about a month later than the males (between July 15 and August 3; Table 3), which roughly follows time of hatch for King Eiders (Cotter et al. 1997; also based on egg production by three females in this study). The other female left Siksik Lake around July 8, suggesting it either failed or did not attempt to nest. Like the males, all females staged off the nearby west coast of Banks Island, but for a shorter period that averaged 18 ± 8 days (range 6–36 days, n=12). Once females departed from that staging area they moved rapidly through the Beaufort Sea in less than a week, except for one individual that staged for 10 days off Smith Bay, Alaska. No females staged in the Chukchi Sea and only two staged off Chukotsk Peninsula in the Bering Sea. Average date of arrival on the moulting area was August 23 ± 7 days (n=11), about 2 weeks later than the males.

Movement of King Eiders across the southeast Beaufort Sea from Banks Island to the Alaskan coast was on a broad front from 2 to 300 km offshore (Fig. 3; Appendix A). From Jones Islands, Alaska, westward to Point Barrow, nearly all of the eiders were within 50 km of shore (Appendix A). Likewise, eiders were seldom > 50 km from shore as they migrated through the Chukchi and the Bering seas.

The moult migration route and staging areas used in the second year of tracking were similar to those recorded in 2008 (Fig. 4). Also, King Eiders tracked from breeding areas on Victoria Island in 1997, 1998, 2004 and 2006 all followed a similar migration route (Dickson et al. 1998, 1999, 2006, 2007).

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Moult

All but one King Eider moulted in the Bering Sea: 5 off the Alaskan mainland coast in Bristol Bay and Kuskokwim Bay, 3 off St Lawrence Island, and 19 off the south and east coasts of Chukotsk Peninsula, Russia (Figs. 5 and 6). The exception was a male that moulted in Kolyuchin Bay on the north side of Chukotsk Peninsula. Eiders tagged with transmitters in previous years moulted in these same areas, including one male at Kolyuchin Bay. However, several eiders in the earlier studies also moulted farther south along the Russian coast as far as Karagin Bay at the base of Kamchatka Peninsula (Dickson et al. 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2006, 2007).

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Fall Migration

Timing, duration and distance travelled during fall migration was highly variable in 2008. Departure from moulting areas occurred over a 7-week period from early October to mid November; duration of migration varied from 3 to 71 days; distance travelled varied from 0 to 1500 km; and arrival at wintering areas occurred over a 10-week period from Oct 8 to the beginning of January (Table 3; Appendix C1). Five of the eiders (two females and three male) that moulted off the southeast coast of Chukotsk Peninsula did not migrate; rather, they remained in their moulting area for the winter. Staging during migration occurred primarily off the east coast of Chukotsk Peninsula, off St Lawrence Island, and on the north side of Bristol Bay (Figs. 7 and 8). The average arrival date on the wintering area for males and females was November 16 ± 30 days and November 18 ± 19 days, respectively.

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Winter

The majority of birds wintered in the Bering Sea either off the southeast coast of Chukotsk Peninsula (15 eiders) or along the south shore of Bristol Bay (9 eiders). An additional two eiders wintered in the North Pacific off Kodiak Island, Alaska, and another wintered off Russia in the southwest Bering Sea (Figs. 9 and 10; App. C). Likewise, results of telemetry in previous years indicated that most of the King Eiders winter either in the polynia off the southeast tip of Chukotsk Peninsula or south of the ice edge off either the Russian or Alaskan coast (Dickson et al. 2001, 2006, 2007). Unlike eiders tagged in 2008, several eiders in earlier years also wintered off the southeast tip of Kamchatka Peninsula (Dickson et al. 2001, 2006, 2007).

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Spring Migration

Eiders started to move north as early as February 4 (Table 3). Although distance travelled was > 50 km during this initital move, the birds remained within the region where they had wintered, and the move was followed by a period when they were stationary which lasted on average 34 ± 23 days (range 9–81 days; n=17). With the next northward movement, the birds departed the wintering regions (as defined by Oppel et al. 2008). This occurred over a six-week period from March 29 to May 11. Average date of departure for females and males was April 26 ± 11 days and April 28 ± 6 days, respectively. All females returned to the breeding area on Banks Island (Fig. 11) and arrived during the second week of June (mean June 12 ± 3 days; range June 6-17; n=10) (Table 3; Appendix C1b). By contrast, males migrated both east and west, with three going to northern Russia and 8 to North America (Fig. 12).

Eiders migrating to breeding areas in North America staged in three areas, each defined by the presence of early open water: in the eastern Chukchi Sea off Icy Cape and Ledyard Bay, Alaska; in the southeast Beaufort Sea extending from Martin Point, Alaska, to Cape Bathurst, NWT; and in the eastern Beaufort Sea off the west coast of Banks Island (Figs. 11 and 12). About half of the eiders staged at least a week in the eastern Chukchi Sea (Table 5). Peak numbers occurred in the first week of May in 2009, and the average stay for all eiders known to stop in the area was 7 ± 4 days. All 18 eiders that crossed the southeast Beaufort Sea staged there for at least a week. The average length of stay was 30 ± 9 days, and peak numbers occurred from May 8 to June 4. Eiders staged for a shorter period off Banks Island; a mean of 10 ± 6 days (n=8). Peak numbers occurred off Banks Island from June 3 to June 12. Daily locations during spring migration confirmed that most of the eiders moved rapidly (over 450 km in < 1 day) across the western Beaufort Sea from Point Barrow eastward to at least Martin Point (Figs. 11 and 12). The exception was one male (#80930) that staged for roughly 10 days off Smith Bay (Figure B35).

The location of the migration corridor and staging areas used by the eiders during spring migration in 2009 was very similar to previous years and was likely influenced primarily by the presence of early open water, hence a place to rest and feed.

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Nest Site Fidelity

All 10 females with transmitters that were still functioning returned to the same area where they had nested the previous year (Fig. 2; Appendix C1b). The average distance between nesting locations was 1.0 ± 0.6 km (range 0.2–2.2 km), suggesting they returned to the same wetland complex, if not the same pond. By contrast, only 2 of 11 males returned to Banks Island in 2009. The other males migrated to various breeding areas elsewhere: 3 to Russia, 2 to Alaska, 2 to Cape Dalhousie and 2 to Victoria Island (Fig. 2; Figure B12 and B19; Appendix C1a). Males were on average 1081 ± 1168 km (range 138–3300 km, n=11) away from where they had been during nest initiation in the previous year.

King Eiders tagged on Victoria Island in previous years showed a similar pattern of nest site fidelity to those tagged on Banks Island in 2008 (Dickson et al. 1999, 2006, 2007). Excluding one bird, females returned to within 1.9 ± 0.9 km of where they had been in the previous year (n=9). The exception returned to a location nearly 50 km away. However, interestingly, this bird also departed the nesting area in late June in the first year, which is about a month earlier than is typical. This suggests that it may not have nested that year, or even completed spring migration post surgery. Like the males tagged on Banks Island, males from breeding areas on Victoria Island tended not to return (1 of 9 returned to Victoria Island). They were on average 1478 ± 1436 km from the breeding area used the previous year (n=9), and 3 of the 9 males from Victoria Island migrated to Russia in the second year.

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Breeding Effort

In the second year of tracking, only 4 of the 9 males that were tracked throughout the nesting period were ever located in terrestrial habitat, and 3 of these were present on land for only 2–4 days before returning to marine waters. The rest remained in marine waters throughout the nesting period, which suggests that some of the males did not breed in the second year (Appendix C1a). Similarly, roughly half (4 of 9) of male eiders tagged in earlier years on Victoria Island remained in marine waters during nest initiation period in the second year. The rate of nonbreeding for males is unknown, but it seems unlikely it would be 50%. Thus, the satellite transmitters may have affected the ability of males to compete for a mate in the year following implantation.

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Moult Site Fidelity

Both males and females returned to the same general area to moult in the second year. All were within 44 km of the site used the previous year (mean 18 ± 16 km, n=8). Indeed, three (one male and two females) returned to within 2 km of their moult location in the previous year. Although sample sizes are small, this concurs with previous results for five eiders marked on Victoria Island and one on Banks Island. On average these birds returned to within 17 ± 18 km (range 2–41 km, n=6) of the moult site used in the previous year.

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Winter Site Fidelity

The one eider with a transmitter that functioned throughout two winter periods was within 8 km of where it had wintered the previous year off Chukotsk Peninsula (Figure B31 and B32). Another bird returned to the same winter region (Bristol Bay area), but unfortunately not enough locations were obtained to pinpoint where within the region the bird wintered in the first year (Figure B7 and B8).

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Conclusions

The 30 satellite transmitters deployed in 2008 have added considerably to our database describing annual movement of the King Eiders that breed in Canada’s Western Arctic. Twenty transmitters provided locations for more than a year, thus helping us identify key areas for eiders throughout their annual cycle, including dates when present in those areas. This information will assist us to predict the impact of development projects such as offshore oil and gas production, and to identify marine areas that need special protective status. In addition, information obtained about breeding and wintering area affiliations, and about site fidelity, has helped delineate the geographic extent of the King Eider population that inhabits Canada’s Western Arctic. Such information is a prerequisite for successful management of this harvested species. For example, we now know that to effectly manage harvest of Canada’s Western Arctic population of King Eiders, Canadian authorities will not only have to work cooperatively with wildlife managers in Alaska, but also those that manage harvest in eastern Russia as far west as the Taymyr Peninsula.

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Literature cited

Alexander, S.A., D.L. Dickson, and S.E. Westover. 1997. Spring migration of eiders and other waterbirds in offshore areas of the western Arctic. In: D.L. Dickson (ed.) King and Common Eiders of the Western Canadian Arctic. Canadian Wildlife Service Occasional Paper No. 94. Ottawa, ON. 75 pp.

ARGOS. 2007. ARGOS User’s Manual.

Barry, T.W. 1986. Eiders of the western Canadian Arctic. In: A. Reed (ed.) Eider ducks in Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service Report Series No. 47, Ottawa, ON.

Cotter, R.C., D.L. Dickson, and C.J. Gratto. 1997. Breeding biology of the King Eider in the western Canadian Arctic. In D.L. Dickson (ed.) King and Common Eiders of the western Canadian Arctic. Canadian Wildlife Service Occasional Paper No. 94. Ottawa, ON. p. 51-57.

Dickson, D.L., R.S. Suydam, and J. Fadely. 1998. Tracking the movement of King Eiders from nesting grounds in western arctic Canada to their molting and wintering areas using satellite telemetry. 1997–1998 Progress report. Unpublished report, Canadian Wildlife Service, Edmonton, AB. 7 pp.

Dickson, D.L., R.S. Suydam, and G. Balogh. 1999. Tracking the movement of King Eiders from nesting grounds in western arctic Canada to their molting and wintering areas using satellite telemetry. 1998–1999 Progress report. Unpublished report, Canadian Wildlife Service, Edmonton, AB. 7 pp.

Dickson, D.L., R.S. Suydam, and G. Balogh. 2000. Tracking the movement of King Eiders from nesting grounds at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to their molting and wintering areas using satellite telemetry. 1999–2000 Progress report. Unpublished report, Canadian Wildlife Service, Edmonton, AB. 34 pp.

Dickson, D.L., G. Balogh, and S. Hanlan. 2001. Tracking the movement of King Eiders from nesting grounds on Banks Island, NWT to their molting and wintering areas using satellite telemetry. 2000–2001 Progress report. Unpublished report, Canadian Wildlife Service, Edmonton, AB. 39 pp.

Dickson, D.L., A.K. Hoover, G. Raven, and T. Bowman. 2006. Tracking the movement of King Eiders and Long-tailed Ducks from nesting grounds on Victoria Island to their moulting and wintering areas using satellite telemetry. 2003–2004 Progress report. Unpublished report, Canadian Wildlife Service, Edmonton, AB. 119 pp.

Dickson, D.L., G. Raven, and T. Bowman. 2007. Tracking the movement of King Eiders from nesting grounds on Victoria Island to their moulting and wintering areas using satellite telemetry. 2004–2005 Progress Report. Unpublished report, Canadian Wildlife Service, Edmonton, AB. 63 pp.

Johnson, S.R. and D.R. Herter. 1989. The birds of the Beaufort Sea. BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., Anchorage, AK. 372 pp.

Korschgen, C.E., K.P. Kenow, A. Genron-Fitzpatrick, W.L. Green, and F.J. Dein. 1996. Implanting intra-abdominal radiotransmitters with external whip antennas in ducks. J. Wildl. Manage. 60:132-137.

Oppel, S., A.N. Powell, and D.L. Dickson. 2008. Timing and distance of King Eider migration and winter movements. Condor 110(2):296-305.

Petersen, M.R., W.W. Larned, and D.C. Douglas. 1999. At-sea distribution of spectacled eiders: a 120-year-old mystery resolved. Auk 116:1009-1020.

Petersen, M.R. and P.L. Flint. 2002. Population structure of Pacific Common Eiders breeding in Alaska. Condor 104:780-787.

Petersen, M.R., J.O. Bustnes, and G.H. Systad. 2006. Breeding and moulting locations and migration patterns of the Atlantic population of Steller’s eiders Polysticta stelleri as determined from satellite telemetry. J Avian Biol 37:58-68.

Phillips, L.M., A.N. Powell, E.J. Taylor, and E.A. Rexstad. 2007. Use of the Beaufort Sea by King Eiders breeding on the North Slope of Alaska. J. Wild. Manage.

Suydam, R., L. Quakenbush, M. Johnson, J.C. George, and J. Young. 1997. Migration of King and Common eiders past Point Barrow, Alaska, in spring 1987, spring 1994, and fall 1994. In D.L. Dickson (ed.) King and Common eiders of the western Canadian Arctic. Canadian Wildlife Service Occasional Paper No. 94. p. 21-28.

Suydam, R.S., D.L. Dickson, J.B. Fadely, and L.T. Quakenbush. 2000. Population declines of King and Common Eiders of the Beaufort Sea. Condor 102:219-222.

Thompson, D.Q. and R.A. Person. 1963. The eider pass Point Barrow, Alaska. J. Wild. Manage.27:348-356.

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Table 1. Summary of duty cycles assigned to satellite transmitters implanted in King Eiders on their nesting grounds on Banks Island, Northwest Territories, in June 2008.
Transmitter numbersHours of transmissionHours between transmissionsNumber of cyclesPeriod of year
80902 to 8091747260mid June to mid December
 619213mid December to early April
 62463early April to mid June
 6728mid June to end
80918 to 8093147260mid June to mid December
 619213mid December to early April
 42468early April to late June
 67225late June to end

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Table 2a. Summary of satellite transmitter performance, and weight and status of female King Eiders implanted with satellite transmitters on their nesting grounds on Banks Island, Northwest Territories, in June 2008.
Transmitter numberDate implantedDate last transmissionDuration of transmissionLocationsStatusWeight (gm)
DaysMonthsTotal number% High quality1
8090211-Jun-0825-Jul-09409149767Paired with 809031900
8090411-Jun-0824-Jun-093781312795Paired with 809051875
8090712-Jun-0823-Apr-106802313476Paired with 809082000
8091012-Jun-0828-Jul-094111413295Paired with 809091500
8091212-Jun-0827-May-09349114947Paired with 809111870
8091313-Jun-0818-Mar-0927897294Paired with 809141950
8091613-Jun-085-Jul-093871313297Paired with 809151950
8092015-Jun-0810-Nov-095131717097Paired with 809191900
8092416-Jun-0816-Jan-0921473067Paired with 80925 or 809272; bird died1950
8092616-Jun-0814-Sep-094551510467Paired with 80925 or 8092721900
8092818-Jun-086-Jan-105671918783Paired with 80930?2075
8092918-Jun-0815-Oct-094841615999Paired; mate escaped1625
8093118-Jun-086-Oct-094751616396Paired; mate escaped1450

1 Location class L1 (500–1500 m), L2 (250–500 m), or L3 (< 250 m).
2 Captured as two pairs.

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Table 2b. Summary of satellite transmitter performance, weight and status of male King Eiders implanted with satellite transmitters on their nesting grounds on Banks Island, Northwest Territories, in June 2008.
Transmitter numberDate implantedDate last
transmission
Duration of transmissionLocationsStatusWeight (gm)
DaysMonthsTotal number% High quality1
8090311-Jun-0822-Jul-094061313588Paired with 809021725
8090511-Jun-0822-Aug-094371514390Paired with 809041900
8090611-Jun-0814-Jul-093981312668Single1750
8090812-Jun-0826-Jul-084411694Paired with 80907; bird shot1650
8090912-Jun-082-Dec-0817365496Paired with 809101750
8091112-Jun-087-Jun-093601210774Paired with 809121550
8091413-Jun-0817-Jul-093991312795Paired with 809131800
8091513-Jun-0827-Sep-094711614891Paired with 809161675
8091713-Jun-084-Jun-093561212098Single1600
8091814-Jun-0814-Jan-0921476595Paired; mate unknown1725
8091915-Jun-0821-Jun-08< 6   Paired with 80920; surgery-related death1725
8092115-Jun-082-Aug-094131413491Single1750
8092215-Jun-0817-Sep-094591515799Single1650
8092316-Jun-0822-Mar-0927997099Paired; mate unknown1650
8092516-Jun-0818-Jan-0921676595Paired with 80924 or 8092621675
8092716-Jun-0828-Aug-094381514386Paired with 80924 or 8092621750
8093018-Jun-0824-Aug-094321415497Paired 80928?1300

1 Location class L1 (500–1500 m), L2 (250–500 m), or L3 (< 250 m).
2 Captured as two pairs.

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Table 3. Timing of movement of King Eiders tagged with satellite transmitters on their nesting grounds on Banks Island, Northwest Territories, in June 2008.
YearMovementMaleFemale
MeanRangeN1MeanRangeN1
2008Breeding area: departure date27-Jun18-Jun to 8-Jul1625-Jul8-Jul to
3-Aug
13
2008Nearby staging area: departure date22-Jul10-Jul to 4-Aug1512-Aug7-Aug to 20-Aug11
2008Moulting area: arrival date9-Aug27-Jul to 20-Aug1523-Aug15-Aug to 8-Sept11
2008Moulting area: departure date19-Oct1-Oct to 22-Nov1230-Oct14-Oct to 18-Nov9
2008-2009Wintering area: arrival date16-Nov8-Oct to 2-Jan1118-Nov17-Oct to 11-Dec8
2009Wintering area: departure date20-Mar4-Feb to 25-Apr115-Apr10-Mar to 22-Apr10
2009Winter region: departure date28-Apr16-Apr to 11-May1126-Apr29-Mar to 9-May11
2009Breeding area: arrival date20-Jun15-Jun to 27-Jun312-Jun6-Jun to 17-Jun10
2009Breeding area: departure date6-Jul29-Jun to 13-Jul223-Jul1-Jul to
4-Aug
6
2009Nearby staging area: departure date 13-Jul113-Aug9-Aug to 22-Aug5
2009Moulting area: arrival date10-Aug6-Aug to 16-Aug331-Aug26-Aug to 6-Sept4
2009Moulting area: departure date   31-Oct31-Oct2
2009-2010Wintering area: arrival date   14-Nov8-Nov to 21- Nov2
2010Wintering area: departure date    24-Mar1

1 Data excluded if locations received were > 10 days apart.

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Table 4. Timing of moult and spring migration across the Beaufort Sea by King Eiders implanted with satellite transmitters on their nesting grounds on Banks Island in 2008.
  Date arrived in
Beaufort Sea
Date departed
from Beaufort Sea
Duration of stay
(# of days)
Migration periodSexN1MeanSDNMeanSDN1MeanSD
Moult migration
in 2008
Female1328-Jul± 81216-Aug± 51223± 8
Male1630-Jun± 41628-Jul± 71631± 7
Spring migration in 2009Female117-May± 51011-Jun± 31036± 7
Male810-May± 13318-Jun± 6344± 12

1 Data excluded if locations received were > 10 days apart.

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Table 5. Location, timing and level of use of spring staging areas by King Eiders migrating to North America to breed in 2009.
Staging areaNo. of
migrants
% that
staged
% that stoppedArrival1Departure1Duration of stay1
Mean± SDMean± SDMean± SD
East Chukchi Sea1947843-May± 118-May± 107± 4
Southeast Beaufort Sea181001008-May± 54-Jun± 930± 9
Off west coast of Banks Is.1450713-Jun± 612-Jun± 210± 6

1 Includes birds known to have stopped in the staging area.

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Figure 1. Location of place names mentioned in the text. Red star indicates capture location for King Eiders in 2008.

Figure 1: Map covering area of Russia, Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. A red star is shown on Banks Island.

Long description for Figure 1

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Figure 2. Locations of King Eiders during nesting period in 2008 and 2009. Circles depict locations accurate to within 1500 m.

Figure 2: Map covering area of Russia, Alaska, Yukon and Northwest. Nesting Period Locations 2009: Female (n=10), Male (n=2) and Male – approximate breeding location (n=7). Nesting Period Locations 2008: Female (n=13), Male (n16).

Long description for Figure 2

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Figure 3. Locations of King Eiders during moult migration in 2008, including last day on nesting area and first day on moulting area. Circles depict locations accurate to within 1500 m; triangles indicate less accurate locations. Arrows indicate general direction of movement.

Figure 3: Map covering area of Russia, Alaska, Yukon and Northwest Territories. Moult Migration Locations 2008 – Female (n=13), male (n=16).

Long description for Figure 3

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Figure 4. Locations of King Eiders during moult migration in 2009, including last day on nesting area and first day on moulting area. Circles depict locations accurate to within 1500 m; triangles indicate less accurate locations. Arrows indicate general direction of movement.

Figure 4: Map covering area of Russia, Alaska, Yukon and Northwest Territories. Moult Migration Locations 2009 – Female (n=7), Male (n=9).

Long description for Figure 4

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Figure 5. Locations of moulting areas for King Eiders in 2008. Circles depict locations accurate to within 1500 m.

Figure 5: Map covering area of Russia, Alaska and Yukon. Moult Migration Locations 2008 – Female (n=13), Male (n=15).

Long description for Figure 5

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Figure 6. Locations of moulting areas for King Eiders in 2009. Circles depict locations accurate to within 1500 m.

Figure 6: Map covering area of Russia, Alaska and Yukon. Moult Migration Locations 2009 – Female (n=5), Male (n=3).

Long description for Figure 6

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Figure 7. Locations of King Eiders during fall migration in 2008, including last day on the moulting area and first day on the wintering area. Circles depict locations accurate to within 1500 m; triangles indicate less accurate locations. Arrows indicate general direction of movement.

Figure 7: Map covering area of Russia and Alaska. Fall Migration Locations 2008 – Female (n=5), Male (n=11).

Long description for Figure 7

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Figure 8. Locations of King Eiders during fall migration in 2009, including last day on the moulting area and first day on the wintering area.
Circles depict locations accurate to within 1500 m; triangles indicate less accurate locations. Arrows indicate direction of movement
.

Figure 8: Map covering area of Russia and Alaska. Fall Migration Locations 2009 – Female (n=2).

Long description for Figure 8

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Figure 9. Locations of King Eiders on wintering area in 2008–2009. Circles depict locations accurate to within 1500 m.

Figure 9: Map covering area of Russia and Alaska. Winter Locations 2008 – Female (n=13), Male (n=14).

Long description for Figure 9

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Figure 10. Locations of King Eiders on wintering area in 2009–2010. Circles depict locations accurate to within 1500 m.

Figure 10: Map covering area of Russia and Alaska. Winter Locations 2009-2010 – Female (n=2).

Long description for Figure 10

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Figure 11. Locations of female King Eiders during spring migration in 2009, including last day on wintering area and first day on nesting area. Circles depict locations accurate to within 1500 m; triangles indicate less accurate locations. Arrows indicate general direction of movement.

Figure 11: Map covering area of Russia, Alaska, Yukon and Northwest Territories. Spring Migration Locations 2009 – Female (n=11).

Long description for Figure 11

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Figure 12. Locations of male King Eiders during spring migration in 2009, including last day on wintering area and first day on nesting area.
Circles depict locations accurate to within 1500 m; triangles indicate less accurate locations. Arrows indicate general direction of movement
.

Figure 12: Map covering area of Russia, Alaska, Yukon and Northwest Territories. Spring Migration Locations 2009 – Male (n=11).

Long description for Figure 12


1 Retired