Male Eider

Eider

Scientific name: Somateria mollissima

Did you know: Eider down, known for its incredible softness and insulating properties, is harvested from the nests of eider ducks and used in high-quality bedding!

What Do Eiders Look Like? (how to identify them)

Eiders are the UK’s heaviest and fastest-flying ducks, part of the genus Somateria. 

Adult males are striking with a mix of black and white plumage and a distinctive sloping forehead that often extends almost to its crown. They boast a wingspan of 80-108 cm and can measure up to 71cm in length. 

Eiders are easily recognisable by their size and unique bill shape.

Differences Between Male And Female Eiders

Male eiders are mostly white on their upper bodies and black below, with a black cap and pale green nape. The females, however, are warmish brown with dense black barring. Both sexes have a green to black beak and brown legs.

What Do Eiders Eat?

Eiders have a specialised diet primarily consisting of shellfish, particularly mussels. They dive and swim underwater, using their strong wings to dislodge shellfish from rocks.

Where Do Eiders Live? (inc. migration info)

Eiders are true seaducks, primarily found along the northern coasts of Europe, North America, and eastern Siberia. They are rarely found far from the coast, often seen riding swells in sandy bays or in long lines beyond breaking waves. 

Eiders breed in the UK, with an estimated 37,000 pairs, and around 86,000 individuals overwintering.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Eiders)

Male eiders emit a quiet, dove-like call, especially during courtship. Females are less vocal but can also be heard during social interactions within flocks.

Fun Eider Facts (kid friendly)

  • Eiders are known for their soft, insulating feathers, called eiderdown.
  • They are the heaviest ducks in the UK.
  • Eiders can fly faster than most other duck species.
  • Male eiders change colour during breeding season, becoming strikingly black and white.
  • They feed by diving underwater and using their wings to swim.
  • Eider down is still harvested from their nests in some parts of the world.
  • Eiders are very sociable birds, often seen in large groups.
  • They nest on the ground, usually in well-hidden locations.
  • Baby eiders are born with a full coat of down and are ready to swim almost immediately.
  • The name ‘eider’ is pronounced like “eye-der.”

Eider Video

Facts About The Eider

Diet: Shellfish, especially mussels.
Bird Family: Ducks, geese and swans
Length: 50-71 cm
Wingspan: 80-108 cm
Weight: 1.2-2.8kg
Scientific Name: Somateria mollissima

The Eider Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

Eider Images

Male Eider Male
Female Eider Female
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Hatchling
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Nestling
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Chick
Eider Fledgling Fledgling
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Juvenile