Join for FREE
It only takes a minute!
Male: black and white, green nape, pinkish tinge to breast, large wedge-shaped bill.
Europe and Asia: The commonest and most widespread of the eiders, breeding across much of the north and extending further south than any other.
Northernmost populations move south in winter but most populations are dispersive rather than migratory and movements are of no great distance.
Range more extensive in winter, found around coasts of southern Britain and northern France and scarce on lakes in Central Europe and in the northern Mediterranean. Vagrant south to the Azores, North Africa and the western Black Sea.
North America: breeding from the Aleutian islands and Alaska, along northern Canada and the Baffin Bay, as well as the east coast of Canada and USA south to Massachusetts, as well as along the southern 3/4 of the coast of Greenland.
In winter vacates the northernmost parts of the range in Alaska and Canada, and can be found a little south of the breeding range in both eastern and western North America, for example annual south to Virginia but rarer than that along the rest of the east coast of USA.
Six subspecies are recognized:
Over most of the Western Palearctic, breeding birds belong to the nominate race.
The most northerly breeders in the region, from Iceland, and Greenland to eastern Canada belong to the race borealis with bright orange-yellow bill in male and more rufous plumage in female. Recorded as a vagrant in northern British Isles.
sedentaria is found in central Canada (Hudson Bay).
Shallow inshore seas breeding on small islands or undisturbed mainland beaches, on passage and in winter also on estuaries, rarely on inland waters.
Breeding is often colonial with colonies on small islands. Arrival of Fox (in Europe: Vulpes vulpes) can lead to decimation or eradication of such breeding colonies. The nest is built close to the sea and is lined with eiderdown, plucked from the female's breast.
The diet includes crustaceans, molluscs, and mussels. Also observed to eat fish
Listen in an external program
 External Links