|Conservation status||Abundant, total population probably several million. Local concentrations vulnerable to oil spills and other forms of pollution, and many populations may be vulnerable to the effects of climate change.|
|Family||Ducks and Geese|
|Habitat||Rocky coasts, shoals; in summer, also islands, tundra. Very close to coastlines at all seasons. For nesting favors islands or coasts with rocky shorelines, either barren or forested, or coastal lagoons in tundra regions. At other seasons on shallow oceanic waters, usually not far from shore. Rarely on fresh water.|
Forages mainly underwater; also forages in shallow water by up-ending or by swimming with only head submerged. May feed by day or night, most often on falling tide or at low tide.
3-5, sometimes 1-8. Olive-green to olive-gray. Incubation by female only, 24-25 days, sometimes 23-30 days. Young: Leave nest shortly after hatching and go to water. Female tends young, but young find all their own food. Several broods often join in group called "creche," accompanied by several adult females. Age at first flight 65-75 days.
Leave nest shortly after hatching and go to water. Female tends young, but young find all their own food. Several broods often join in group called "creche," accompanied by several adult females. Age at first flight 65-75 days.
Mainly mollusks. Feeds especially on mussels and other bivalves; also some crabs and other crustaceans, echinoderms, aquatic insects, small fish. On breeding grounds eats more insects and some plant material.
Several males may court one female. Displays of male mostly involve exaggerated movements of head, accompanied by low cooing calls; also rearing up out of water, flapping wings. Nest site on ground, usually somewhat sheltered by rocks or plants, close to water. Occasionally on cliff ledge. Often breeds in colonies; may be associated with Arctic Terns or other birds. Nest is a shallow depression lined with plant material and with large amounts of down.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Northernmost breeders migrate rather long distances, southernmost breeders are more sedentary; total winter range does not extend very far beyond southern edge of nesting range. Less likely than King Eider to appear far to the south. Hudson Bay birds remain there all year on open leads in pack ice.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsDuring courtship the male gives a hollow moan and various cooing notes. Female quacks.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Common Eider
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Common Eider
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.