The Common Eider, scientifically named Somateria Mollissima
is considered to be a large sea duck. It is commonly found
along the northern coasts of Europe, North America and
Eastern Siberia. They can be anywhere between nineteen and a
half to twenty-eight inches in length.
The Eider prefers to breed in northern temperate regions
like in the Arctic. And they migrate and winter-over in
temperate zones farther south and form large flocks on
Eiders build nests close to the sea and line them with
eiderdown plucked from the female's breast. This provides a
warm soft lining for the eggs in the nest. Eiderdown has
long been harvested for filling quilts and pillows but has
in recent years been replaced with down from domestic fowl
or synthetic alternatives. Eiderdown quilts and pillows are
now a rarity, but eiderdown continues to be harvested after
the ducklings leave the nest.
The Common Eider has a bulky shape with a large wedge-shaped
bill. The male is unmistakable with its black and white
plumage and green nape. The female Common Eider is a brown
bird but still can be distinguished from other ducks because
of its head shape and size. The Common Eiders call sounds
like "ah-ooo," and it isn't readily approachable.
You can distinguish different Eiders based on minor
differences in bill color and plumage. The Common Eider
eats mollusks and crustaceans, and mussels are considered to
be its favorite food. It eats the mussels whole and the
shells are then crushed in the stomach and excreted. When an
Eider eats a crab it removes the claws and legs and then
eats the body whole.
The Eider has a population between North America and Europe
of about two million birds. It is unknown how many birds are
in Siberia. There is a particularly famous colony of Eiders
on Farne Islands in Northumberland, England.
These were some of the first birds to have protection laws
established to preserve them, these laws were passed in the
year 676. Currently the Eider is the country's emblem and
there are still one thousand pairs that nest there every
year. They are often called Cuddy or Cuddy's Ducks in honor
of the patron saint St. Cuthbert.
Currently the Common Eider is on the protected species list
of the AEWA(African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds
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