Common Eider Life History


Habitat OceansBreeds on coastal islands or along ponds and lagoons near the ocean. Winters offshore near marine shoals.Back to top


Food Aquatic invertebratesAquatic invertebrates, especially mollusks, crustaceans, and sea urchins.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Ground

Nest Description

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

Nesting Facts

Clutch Size:3-8 eggs
Number of Broods:1 brood
Egg Length:3.0-3.1 in (7.55-7.84 cm)
Egg Width:1.9-2.1 in (4.92-5.28 cm)
Incubation Period:24-26 days
Egg Description:Olive or greenish, usually unmarked.
Condition at Hatching:Covered in down and able to leave the nest soon after hatching.
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Behavior Surface DiveDives to sea floor to take prey.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernMarket hunting reduced southern populations of Common Eider in the Atlantic to near extinction by the end of the 19th century. Currently populations are healthy, though Arctic populations are declining. They are not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List.Back to top


Bellrose, F. C. (1976). Ducks, Geese and Swans of North America. Second edition. Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, PA, USA.

Goudie, R. Ian, Gregory J. Robertson and Austin Reed. (2000). Common Eider (Somateria mollissima), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. (2019). Longevity records of North American birds. Version 1019 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2019.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. (2014). The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, USA.

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