Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Day 142 - Entertaingly Expressive Eider Ducks

Hi all today's Day 142 and as you know I was at Washington Wetlands and Wildfowl Centre over near Newcastle and I saw at lots of species I hadn't seen before. There was a bird there though that I had seen the day before for the first time but it was in the distance just off the coast at Dunstanburgh Castle near Craster in Northumberland. I was glad to see it up close though as it makes a fabuloouus (you'll get that in a minute :-) noise. From the title and the pictures you'll know that I am talking about Eider Ducks.
Male Eider ducks (Somateria mollissima

So I did my research and here are the facts:
  • They have a very interesting range of territory. They are resident all over the Scottish Islands and have quite a range in the seas around them as well. 
  • They are also resident along the coast of Scotland as well as a short range round them. Their resident territory does stretch a small bit into Northern England and North Northern Ireland.
  • Finally, they Winter all around the coast of England apart from Central-Southern England. They also live on the coast of Southern Wales but that's it. Phew!
  • They are an Amber status bird because it is concentrated in one place in the Winter. This classifies it in the Amber List.
Male and female Eider duck
  • There are 27,000 breeding pairs in the UK. In the Winter, though, there are 63,000 birds in the UK.
  • They are 60cm long and have a 94cm wingspan. Both male and female birds weigh 2.2kg which is quite heavy when you think about it.
  • It is quite good that I saw my first Eider in Northumberland, they have quite a history there and were a favourite of St Cuthbert. There is a stained glass window in a church in Amble that shows St Cuthbert with his beloved Eider. Due to this they are known locally as Cuthberts or Cuddy ducks.
  • Their diet is molluscs and crustaceans which they dive for on the sea bed. The mollissima bit of their latin name refers to their favourite food of mussels. 
  • They live in colonies and their young are looked after in creches.
  • Eider ducks have been hunted and farmed in the past for their warm down or under feathers which were used for eiderdown quilts! This nearly led to their extinction in the 19th Century
  • They have one of the best calls that I have ever heard. It is basically just an ooh! You can hear it at this link, at a video on the RSPB linked page below or in my little film clip here.

  • They have a very large typical lifespan of 8 years! I'd say that's pretty good but one Eider went quite a step further and survived for 35 years 6 months and 26 days!
Here are some links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,


1 comment:

  1. I love their calls as well, they're such expressive ducks! - Tasha