Common Eider


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This large colorful duck is the Common Eider. This is a Male Common Eider with his black, pinkish-white, and green feathers. The Female Common Eider is a reddish brown but with the same long bill and head shape. Before photographing this one on the bank of a pond near the ocean, I had only seen them through binoculars bobbing on the sea. This diving duck is large, weighing up to six pounds, and is unique with a wedge-shaped head. They eat shellfish and aquatic invertebrates. Aquatic invertebrates are little creatures without a spine such as crayfish, clams, and snails that live in rivers and streams and the sea. The Common Eider dives as deep as 65 feet to the bottom to find its food. Common Eiders build their nests on the ground near water. The Female Common Eider lines the nest with down that she plucks from her breast. People gather and clean the Eiderdown from nests after Mama Eider and the ducklings leave. Humans have been using eiderdown for centuries to stay warm. Eiderdown is the world’s most appreciated and prized down for insulation. It has springy characteristics without quills or feathers.  This springy quality allows the down to keep its shape and last for decades when made (usually by hand) into clothing, pillows, or bed coverings. Most of the world’s Eiderdown products come from Iceland. Now I know why Eiderdown products are so expensive!

Sandra Calderbank
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