Birda Logo
Features
Birda+
About
Species Guide
Challenges
Shop
loading...
A photo of a Common Eider (Somateria mollissima), male
Common Eider, Male

Common Eider

Somateria mollissima

The common eider, known scientifically as Somateria mollissima, is a large sea-duck that captivates with its considerable size, ranging from 50 to 71 cm in body length. It is the largest of the four eider species and, in Europe, it is the largest duck present. In North America, it is only surpassed in size by the Muscovy duck in certain locales. The common eider is a robust bird, with males displaying a striking black and white plumage and a distinctive green nape, while females are cloaked in brown, yet both sexes are recognizable by their large, wedge-shaped bills.

Identification Tips

The male common eider is unmistakable with its contrasting black and white feathers and verdant nape. The female, though predominantly brown, can be distinguished from other ducks by her size and head shape. The drake's unique display call resembles a human-like "ah-ooo," and the hen's voice is characterized by hoarse quacks. The species is often approachable and can be identified by its bulky shape and size.

Habitat

Common eiders are found nesting close to the sea, often on coastal islands where they form colonies. They prefer Arctic and northern temperate regions for breeding but migrate slightly south to temperate zones during winter.

Distribution

This species graces the northern coasts of Europe, North America, and eastern Siberia. It breeds in the Arctic and some northern temperate regions, wintering farther south in temperate zones where it may gather in large flocks on coastal waters.

Behaviour

Eiders are colonial breeders, with colonies varying from less than a hundred to over 15,000 individuals. They exhibit natal philopatry, with females often returning to their birthplace to breed. This has led to the development of kin-based social structures and cooperative breeding behaviors, such as shared rearing of ducklings.

Song & Calls

The male common eider's display call is a distinctive "ah-ooo," while the female emits hoarse quacks. These vocalizations contribute to the bird's unique auditory presence in its natural habitat.

Breeding

The eider's nest is built near the sea and is lined with the female's own eiderdown, a soft and warm material once harvested for human use. The species demonstrates cooperative breeding behaviors, including shared rearing of ducklings in crèches.

Similar Species

While the male common eider is unique in appearance, the female may be confused with other eider species. However, size and head shape are key distinguishing features.

Diet and Feeding

The common eider dives for crustaceans and molluscs, with mussels being a preferred food. It consumes mussels whole, crushing the shells in its gizzard. Crabs are also on the menu, with the eider skillfully removing claws and legs before consumption.

Conservation status

The common eider is currently classified as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. Populations are estimated at 1.5–2 million birds in both North America and Europe, with additional, albeit unknown, numbers in eastern Siberia. Conservation efforts and studies, particularly in Canada's Hudson Bay, are ongoing to monitor and support the species' recovery.

App logo
Birda is a birdwatching app and community aimed at curious people who want to deepen their connection with nature.

Common Eider Fun Facts

Did you know?
Female Common Eiders will line their nest with the soft feathers plucked from their own breast.

Common Eiders on Birda

Sightings

More Ducks, Geese, Swans

A photo of a Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata) , male

Mandarin Duck

Aix galericulata
Birda Logo

Your birdwatching journey like never before

Connect with nature in minutes
Take a walk, look out of the window and log the birds that you see. Feel good about those little connections to nature.
Discover the joy of birding
Find new birding spots, see more birds, share and celebrate with a like-minded community of nature lovers.
Play your part in saving nature
Logging your birding sightings and sessions turns into positive action for our planet. Every sighting counts.

Birda Blog

What Our Birders Say
Robred 2
Fun way to add to your birdwatching experience
I enjoy watching birds in my backyard, but this app helped me really pay attention while on vacation this summer. It was fun to add new birds to my bird watching app.
Emma L
App got me interested in birding!
Super friendly community <3 This app got me interested in birding! It teaches me cool stuff and its super friendly, and fun :) The species guide is really developing my knowledge, and i love seeing cool new birds from round the world!
Erna M
I really like Birda
I really like Birda. I also use other birding apps and have Birda with E-bird going at the same time.
778
Great bird recording
For a while I’ve been trying to find an app to easily record bird lists and day out and struggled to find one that I like. Birda is great for this, straightforward and a great community!
SuperOliviaGirl
Really great app
It’s easy to use and it’s fun to log the birds you notice on a walk or just in your garden. There’s a option to record the birds you see in a session which is really nice. Good excuse to stop for a while and just watch birds. I am also enjoying the information part where you can find out fact about birds from all over the world.
Sacha0508
Simply fantastic
I love this app, it puts so much fun into recording the birds I’ve seen and heard while I’m out and about. The interface is user-friendly and suitable for all ages. It’s great to collect badges and to review my “lists”.
Mike T
Sense of Community
A great app, which is continually being improved. What really comes through is the passion of those behind the app. The sense of community is brilliant, so much help and support provided to new and/or in experienced birders.
Patricia L
Very encouraging birding app
Easy to use, fun to see progress and encouraging to receive feedback from other users.
Marlster24
Very Wholesome App
Joined this app with a new interest in watching birds to help me find out what I was spotting. The community is very active in helping identify birds which is great and everyone is very kind so it’s just a nice wholesome community. I would definitely recommend this for any bird spotter 😄
Talli A
My favourite app
As a young birdwatcher who was always keen to be apart of a community but never seemed to find one, my problem was solved downloading this!!! Everyone is so friendly and just as excited to see birds as me 😁
As featured in
Birda Logo
AboutPressAmbassadorsAffiliatesInfluencersCareersPrivacyTerms & Conditions
An app for birdwatchers
Connect with us
Copyright © 2024 Chirp Birding. All rights reserved.