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King Eider Draws Crowds to Cape Cod Canal

Christopher Kazarian - The king eider stretching its wings yesterday afternoon.Christopher Kazarian - The king eider drew nearly a dozen people to the Cape Cod Canal yesterday morning.Christopher Kazarian - Based on its colorful plumage, this king eider is an adult male.Christopher Kazarian - This king eider has been hanging out at the Herring Run in the Cape Cod Canal.

When it comes to royalty, the king typically receives the most attention. And so it is here on Cape Cod where a king eider is drawing dozens of bird enthusiasts and photographers from throughout the state to get a glimpse of the colorful duck.

Typically found in the waters of the Arctic, the bird has spent a good portion of this month hanging out with common eiders in the Cape Cod Canal. Yesterday morning, there were nearly a dozen people perched at the rock’s edge at the Herring Run on the Canal, all to observe the spectacular bird.

“That’s an awesome bird, isn’t it,” said Mike O’Connor, owner of the Bird Watcher’s General Store, late yesterday afternoon in a phone interview. He should know; a few weeks ago he made the trek to Bourne to see the king eider for himself.

Based on its’ vibrant plumage – its’ head is a striking combination of white, grey, yellow and black – O’Connor said this was an adult male.


Though not common to the Cape, O’Connor said king eiders have been found here over the years. “When we get them, they are usually females or young birds, so they’re not that handsome,” he said. “Or they’re on Race Point, way out. This one is right in front of the parking lot so it’s really easy to get pictures of and easy to view.”

The bird’s accessibility and proximity to the shore, he said, is one of the reasons it is drawing crowds. “For example, we have eagles all around the Cape that don’t seem to settle in everywhere,” O’Connor said, drawing a comparison. “But if one settled in downtown Falmouth, you’d have everybody down there looking at it.”

Adding to the experience, he said, are the common eiders “which are also beautiful.” He anticipated the king eider would start heading north at some point in the middle of April.