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Common Eider


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.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
19.7–28 in
50–71 cm
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.
  • The oldest recorded Common Eider was a male, and at least 22 years, 7 months old, when he was found in eastern Canada.



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



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


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



Surface Dive

Dives to sea floor to take prey.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

Market 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.


  • 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.
  • Bellrose, F. C. 1976. Ducks, Geese, and Swans of North America. Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, PA.
  • North American Bird Conservation Initiative, U.S. Committee. 2014. State of the Birds 2014 Report. U.S. Department of Interior, Washington, DC.
  • USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. 2015. Longevity records of North American Birds.

Range Map Help

Common Eider Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings


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