Female and male eider ducks at Slimbridge Wetland Centre. (Nigel Key, 2011)

Female and male eider ducks at Slimbridge Wetland Centre. (Nigel Key, 2011)

Identification
The common eider duck (Somateria mollissima) is an iconic Icelandic bird. Like most ducks, the males and females are easily distinguishable; the females are a mottled brown colour, whereas the males are black and white with green feathers at the back of the head and top of the bill. They have large heads in comparison to many other ducks, and also long, chunky bills.

Distribution
Eider ducks are sea birds, and they live on the coasts and islands of Iceland year round. Colonies can also be found in Northumberland and off the West coast of Scotland, and individuals can be seen farther south in the UK in the winter. They can also be found off the coast of Northern Europe, North America, Greenland, and Svalbard. They categorised as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List because of population declines.

Feeding
Eider ducks forage mostly at sea and in the intertidal zone, where they primarily eat mussels and other bivalves, but also sea snails, bristle worms, starfish, and crustaceans.

Eider Ducks and Culture
Eider ducks are particularly important in Iceland because their down is very warm and makes a great insulating material. Eider ducks have traditionally been farmed in Iceland, and Skálanes continues this tradition by supporting a local colony.

 

Further Resources:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/eider/

[Common Eider Range Map, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology](https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Common_Eider/maps-range#)

http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/common-eider-somateria-mollissima

http://www.slim-bridge.co.uk/eider.html

Icelandic Eiderdown

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