Common Eider

Somateria mollissima

Order

ANSERIFORMES

Family

Ducks, Geese and Swans (Anatidae)

Code 4

COEI

Code 6

SOMMOL

ITIS

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ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The Common Eider is a sea-duck which resides throughout the northern coasts of Europe, North America and eastern Siberia. It typically breeds in the Arctic region, and nests in small colonies. Nesting always takes place near the sea, and nests are lined with the famous eiderdown plucked from the mother’s breast. This eiderdown is harvested after the young hatch and leave the nest, so this practice does not threaten the survival of the species. The common Eider dives for its food, and commonly eats crustaceans, mollusks and mussels. The conservation rating for the Common Eider is Least Concern.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Common Eider: Large diving duck (v-nigrum), with distinctive sloping forehead, black body, white breast and back. Crown is black and nape is pale green. Wings are white with black primary and secondary feathers. Tail and rump are black. Bill is dull yellow to gray-green (eastern) or orange-yellow (western).


Range and Habitat

Common Eider: Breeds on the arctic coasts from southwestern Alaska, across northern Canada, and coastal Greenland. Forms flocks offshore in the winter and occurs off the coasts of Alaska, Greenland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, and New England. Abundant on shallow bays, rocky shores, and casual on the Great Lakes.

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SONGS AND CALLS

Voice Text

"cooo, cooo", "kor-er-kor-korkorr"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • A famous colony lives on the Farne Islands in Northumberland, Britain. These birds were the subject of one of the first ever bird protection laws, established by Saint Cuthbert in the year 676. About 1,000 pairs still nest there every year.
  • A group of ducks has many collective nouns, including a "brace", "flush", "paddling", "raft", and "team" of ducks.
  • Because St. Cuthbert is the patron saint of Northumberland, it was natural that the eider should be chosen as the county's emblem bird; the birds are still often called Cuddy's ducks in the area, "Cuddy" being the familiar form of "Cuthbert".
  • A colorful duck of the northern seacoasts, the Common Eider is the largest duck in the Northern Hemisphere.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP

CERange Map for Common Eider

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Jane Wright

Artist

Yury Lisyak

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

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BreastX
The upper front part of a bird.
CrownX
The crown is the top part of the birds head.
NapeX
Also called the hindneck or collar, it is the back of the neck where the head joins the body.
RumpX
The area between the uppertail coverts and the back of the bird.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X