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June 13, 2017 – Common Eider

To be honest, when I’m out birding . . . I tend to ignore the the birds I see all the time.  Blue Jays, Mallards, Mourning Doves are everywhere . . . and become part of the scenery.  One bird that I see everyday but will never become common place for me is the Common Eider.

Feeding on the mollusks and clams in the salt water river by our house, Common Eiders are a regular visitor in all seasons.  Males are white, with a stunning black and yellow cap that extends onto the bill.  Females have an intricate brown striped pattern.  Juvenile males have an almost modernistic mottled coloring.  In summary Eiders are beautiful.

They tend to hang out on an island in our river about a quarter mile away . . . easy viewing from the living room spotting scope.  The birds will dive to the bottom of the river grab a clam, bring it to the surface and swallow it whole.  Somehow, the Eider’s digestive system dissolves the shell . . . talk about indigestion.

Multiple females will congregate around their young.  These large groups (called crèches) are used to protect the young against predators.

The Common Eider is North America’s largest duck.  Last year I handled one that a hunter had taken; it was heavy and the bird’s feathers were very dense to hold in heat and keep out water.

Then there is the bill . . . its the best!!!!