Common Eider

Somateria mollissima




Ducks, Geese and Swans (Anatidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Light olive to brown or gray olive

Number of Eggs:

3 - 5

Incubation Days:

24 - 26

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

On ground protected by rocks or grass

Nest Material:

Sticks, mosses, grasses, seaweed and down


Some migrate



Common Eider: Large diving duck (v-nigrum), with distinctive sloping forehead, black body and 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). Western female is barred gray-brown overall with a paler head and gray bill; eastern female appears more red-brown. Juveniles of both resemble females but are grayer overall. Eclipse males have dark heads, backs, and breasts; 1st winter males have dark heads with white backs and breasts.

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.

Breeding and Nesting

Common Eider: Three to five light olive to brown or gray olive eggs are laid in a nest on the ground. Nest is constructed of twigs, mosses, grass and seaweed lined with with down from the female.

Foraging and Feeding

Common Eider: Eats shellfish it gathers by diving 33 to 60 feet underwater.


Common Eider: Makes a pigeon like "coo" or a low hoarse "kor-er-korkor-kor."

Similar Species

Common Eider: Male Spectacled and King Eiders have distinctive features. Female King Eider has more rounded head than female Common Eider.

The upper front part of a bird.
The crown is the top part of the birds head.
Also called the hindneck or collar, it is the back of the neck where the head joins the body.
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