"Common Eider"
(Somateria mollissima)



"Common Eider drake"
Photograph by

Ian Gereg
"Common Eider hen"
Photograph by

Ian Gereg

Common Eiders are a large duck often seen in large flocks floating along the coast. In Iceland, down from the nest is collected during incubation and is used commercially. Eiders use the down to line their nests. Rather than killing the eider, humans have learned to take the down a few days after the young leave the nest. Males often winter farther north than females and immatures.

Size: 25"

Male: Distinctive white back and black flanks easily seen from a distance. Long-sloping "Roman nose".

Female: All brown with profile like that of male.

Nest: Prefers boulder-covered islands. Nest of seaweeds, grasses, sticks, and mosses lined with down is placed on ground. Nests in colonies.

Eggs: 3-5; pale greenish olive.

Incubation: 25-30 days

Fledging: 56-70 days, precocial

Breeding: Monogamous.

Food: Dives in sea as far as 60 feet underwater for whelks, sea urchins, crustaceans, and mollusks, especially blue mussels.

Voice: Female gives several hoarse sounding calls. Male gives dove-like cooing sounds.

Habitat: Coastal waters.

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