Eider Ducks - Hebridean Birds
Western Isles Birds - These birds the eiders are seen in several areas of the Western Isles, one particular area is at Col - The Isle of Lewis.

They have large heads and massive bills. The Common Eider is characterised by its bulky shape and large wedge-shaped bill.

The male is unmistakable with its black and white plumage and green nape.(the reverse of the usual sea bird plumage The female is a mixture of rich browns.
Eider Ducks Isle of Lewis - Western Isles Bird Sightings
Bluetit - Bird Sightings - Stornoway - Western Isles
Bird Overview - Ducks - Eider Ducks
Family
Swans, Ducks - Geese
Latin name
Somateria mollissima
Population
Common
Similar Species
Shelduck
Female Mallard
Velvet Scoter
Description
These birds the eiders are seen in several areas of the Western Isles, they have large heads and massive bills. The Common Eider is characterised by its bulky shape and large wedge-shaped bill. The male is unmistakable with its black and white plumage and green nape.(the reverse of the usual sea bird plumage The female is a mixture of rich browns.



The male in breeding plumage has its back face and chest white whilst its belly, sides and tail are black - these birds will have extensive white in the wings.THe bill is a grey green, yellow or orange.

The non breeding plumage is overall dark brown with a pale brown stripe through the eye, the breast being brown with white flecks. The back feathers are white with black edges.



The females are brownish all over with black barring, especially on sides and flanks. Their bills are pale greenish gray to olive green or dark gray.

The youngsters - the sexes are slightly different - the females being like the adult - only duller and darker. The male youngsters are brownish black with varying amounts of white at base of neck and breast, usually with some white on back, head mostly dark.



Size
50-71 cm body length. the Common Eider is the largest duck in the Northern Hemisphere.
Habitat
These birds the eider ducks can be seen in the Western Isles around the rocky coasts and sandy beaches.
Food
Molluscs, shellfish and crustaceans. The Eider eats mussels by swallowing them whole, the shells are then crushed in their stomachs and excreted
Voice
This duck's call is a pleasant "ah-ooo - the females a deep 'korr-korr'
Breeding
These birds breed may - July have 4-6 eggs, incubation is 25 - 26 days and the young fledge at 9-10 weeks and they nest on the ground. Once they hatch the young birds soon feed themselves under their parents supervision sometimes gathering in creches with other broods.

Female eiders frequently return to where they return to breed on the same island where they were hatched.


Misc. Info
Eiderdowns
The eider's nest is built close to the sea and is lined with the celebrated eiderdown, plucked from the female's breast. This soft and warm lining has long been harvested for filling pillows and quilts, but in more recent years has been largely replaced by down from domestic farm-geese and synthetic alternatives. Although true Eiderdown pillows or quilts are now a rarity, eiderdown harvesting still is carried out and is sustainable as it can be done after the ducklings leave the nest with no harm to the birds.

Fastest Flying BIrds Recorded

When diving Eiders descend with their wings open - they use their wings as well as their feet for propulsion. Although these birds are heavy and the wings don't look especially strong, Eiders are amongst the fasted flying birds recorded with 47 miles per hour being clocked.

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