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Common Eider

Somateria mollissima ORDER: ANSERIFORMES FAMILY: ANATIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A colorful duck of the northern seacoasts, the Common Eider is the largest duck in the Northern Hemisphere. The male's bright white, black, and green plumage contrasts markedly with the female's camouflaging dull striped brown.

Merlin Bird ID app
BNA ML combo package

At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
19.7–28 in
50–71 cm
Weight
41.6–107.2 oz
1180–3040 g
Other Names
  • Eider à duvet (French)

Cool Facts

  • The Pacific form of the Common Eider is distinct genetically and morphologically from the other forms, and may be a different species. The male has a thin black V on its chin and a bright yellow or orange bill.
  • Mother Common Eiders lead their young to water, and often are accompanied by nonbreeding hens that participate in chick protection. Broods often come together to form "crèches" of a few to over 150 ducklings. Attacks by predators may cause several broods to cluster together into a crèche. Once formed, a crèche tends to stay together throughout the brood rearing period, although some of the different females attending it may leave.

Habitat


Ocean

Breeds on coastal islands or along ponds and lagoons near the ocean. Winters offshore near marine shoals.

Food


Insects

Aquatic invertebrates, especially mollusks, crustaceans, and sea urchins.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1–14 eggs
Egg Description
Olive or greenish, usually unmarked.
Condition at Hatching
Covered in down and able to leave the nest soon after hatching.
Nest Description

A scrape on the ground, usually near water, lined with vegetation and down from the female.

Nest Placement

Ground

Behavior


Surface Dive

Dives to sea floor to take prey.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Market hunting reduced southern population in the Atlantic to near extinction by the end of the 19th century. That population currently is healthy. Arctic populations are declining.

Credits

    1. Bellrose, F. C. 1976. Ducks, Geese, and Swans of North America. Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, PA.
    2. Goudie, R. I., G. J. Robertson, and A. Reed. 2000. Common Eider (Somateria mollissima). In The Birds of North America, No. 546 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Range Map Help

Common Eider Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings