Common Eider

Family: Anatidae

Scientific Name: Somateria mollissima

Description: Common eider-Sea ducks are the largest ducks in the northern hemisphere. Males in breeding plumage are white above and black below, with small are of green on back and sides of head. Females are barred grayish to reddish brown, and camouflage well in the vegetation of islands on which they breed. Total length is around 61cm.

Distribution: Found on the east and north coast of North America. Bulk of Atlantic coast eiders are in Newfoundland and on Cape Cod in winter.
Habitat: Locally abundant on shallow bays and rocky shores.

Nesting: Colonial birds, they nest in shallow depressions on rocky shelves lined with plant material and down. The female incubates 3-6 olive grey eggs for approximately 24-25 days.

Diet: Common Eiders feed on mollusks, crustaceans, echinoderms, insects and plant material. Blue Mussels are a major part of their diet.

Relation to man: Eider down has been prized for its superior insulative properties. Down-gathering still goes on in parts of Quebec and Newfoundland.