Nests on grassy edges of tundra lakes and ponds, or within drained lake basins (Soothill and Whitehead 1978); occasionally on barren rocky tundra, ridges, islands or peninsulas (Fredrickson 2001). Nests located in dry moss or in depressions between grassy hummocks (Soothill and Whitehead 1978). Preferred habitat on Lena Delta, Russia, and in Barrow, Alaska, region is moss-lichen polygonal tundra (Pihl 1999, Quakenbush et al. 1995). Generally, choose nesting habitat within 20 to 30 km of the coast but have been reported as far as 100 to 150 km inland (Fredrickson 2001). Females with broods near Barrow were documented using ponds and streams with emergent pendant grass or sedges, and were also observed in blooming cotton grass (Eriphorum sp.) (Quakenbush et al. 1995). Deeper parts of ponds with emergent vegetation serve as important escape cover for ducklings (Fredrickson 2001).
Fredrickson, L. H. 2001. Steller’s eider: Polysticta stelleri. In The Birds of North America, No. 571, (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.
Pihl, S. (compiler). 1999. European species action plan for Steller’s Eider (Polysticta stelleri). Final draft, September 1999. Prepared by BirdLife International on behalf of the European Commission. 37pp. Available at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/nature/directive/birdactionplan/polystictastelleri.htm. Accessed 23 November 2000.
Quakenbush, L. T., R. S. Suydam, K. T. Fluetsch, C. L. Donaldson. 1995. Breeding biology of Steller’s Eiders nesting near Barrow, Alaska, 1991-1994. Ecological Services, Fairbanks, Alaska, USFWS, Technical Report NAES-TR-95-03. 53 pp.
Soothill, E., and P. Whitehead. 1978. Wildfowl of the world. Peerage Books, London.