Common Eider Duck

The Common Eider Duck is a large (50–71 cm (20–28 in) in body length) sea-duck that is distributed over the northern coasts of Europe, North America and eastern Siberia. It breeds in Arctic and some northern temperate regions, but winters somewhat farther south in temperate zones, when it can form large flocks on coastal waters. It can fly at speeds up to 113 km/h (70 mph). The eider’s nest is built close to the sea and is lined with the celebrated eiderdown, plucked from the female’s breast. This soft and warm lining has long been harvested for filling pillows and quilts, but in more recent years has been largely replaced by down from domestic farm-geese and synthetic alternatives. Although eiderdown pillows or quilts are now a rarity, eiderdown harvesting continues and is sustainable, as it can be done after the ducklings leave the nest with no harm to the birds.

Common Eider Duck

Common Eider Duck

Appearance:
Male – The male common Eider duck has a large grey-green wedge-shaped beak, black and white plumage, and a pale green nape. The legs and feet are olive-green.
Female – The female common Eider duck has a brown barred plumage but still has the large characteristic beak which is olive-grey.
Eclipse – The male in eclipse plumage has a a dark brown plumage with white markings on the back and wings.

Size: – Typical Adult is 20-28 inches.

Food: – Mainly mussels which are swallowed whole, as well as other animal matter such as molluscs, and crustaceans.

Habitat: – Coastal areas in north America, north Europe, Arctic, Greenland, and eastern Siberia.

Breeding Season: – Early April further south but June in the north.

Eggs: – 4 to 6 (olive-grey color).

Notes: – The common Eider duck is a large sea duck which is found in the Northern Hemisphere. The female Eider plucks the feathers from her breast to line her nest. It used to be commonplace for Eider feathers (Eiderdown) to be harvested for filling pillows and quilts.

The different types of wild ducks can be grouped into puddle, aka “dabbling” and diving ducks. The dabblers mostly feed in smaller bodies of shallow water or along shorelines, where they are able to tip their bodies forward to reach their food on the bottom. There are divers who feed in deeper water where they dive and pursue their quarry. Some of these birds, the Harlequin Duck for example, actually dives to the bottom of fast-flowing waters and feeds on life forms attached to rocks.

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