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Common Eider

Silhouette DucksDucks
Common EiderSomateria mollissima
  • ORDER: Anseriformes
  • FAMILY: Anatidae

Basic Description

A bird of the cold north with a warm reputation, the Common Eider is famous for the insulating quality of its down (typically harvested from nests without harming the birds). Breeding males are sharp white and black, with pistachio green accents on the neck. Females are barred with warm brown and black. These largest of all Northern Hemisphere sea ducks gather along rocky ocean shores, diving for mussels and other shellfish, which they pry from rocks using long, chisel-like bills. Males court females throughout the year with gentle, crooning calls.

More ID Info
image of range map for Common Eider
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Common Eiders are indeed common in the far north but are rare anywhere south of the mid-Atlantic states. The easiest-to-reach places to look for them include southern Alaska, Atlantic Canada, and New England. Visit rocky, saltwater coasts or look around stone breakwaters, jetties, or bridges that provide habitat for mussels, their main prey. During spring migration, eiders occasionally gather in flocks on brackish or fresh water, especially when waiting for thaw in their nesting grounds farther north.

Other Names

  • Éider Común (Spanish)
  • Eider à duvet (French)
  • Cool Facts