Tag Archives: Eider

Going to the shore

Æður / Æðarfugl – Eider – Somateria mollissima

Now the Eiders are leading their chicks to water and are on their way to the seashore. The adults take care of the young that are in constant danger from predators.


To protect the chicks Eiders often form groups or broods with several hens and dozens of chicks.  Non-breeding hens also take the role of babysitters and take part in the chick protection.


Eiders and their down

Æður / Æðarfugl – Eider – Somateria mollissima

The Eider (Somateria mollissima) is a sea duck and common in Iceland all year round. In the winter time it stays in the ocean around the country. In summer it nests near the shore but ventures up rivers in a few places.


The Eider is famous for its down which is used in pillows and duvets. The eiderdown is gathered manually from the nests, usually in June. When the bird leaves the nest for a few minutes  the farmers gather small amounts of down from the nests, replacing it with dry soft grass. Care is taken not to disturb the nest and shortly afterwards the bird lies down on the eggs again.

Huge flocks of Eiders by the shore in Eyrarbakki in winter.

The Eiders live in colonies and the Eider farmers carefully protect the flocks that choose to nest on their land and the birds return each year.

Eider colony at an Eiderduck farm
Eider colony at an Eiderdown farm


Eider on Öflusá River

Æðarfugl – Eider – Somateria mollissima

The first Eiders (Somateria mollissima) this spring were seen on Ölfusá River by Selfoss on April 4. The Eider usually keeps to the sea and breeds in dense colonies not far from the shore. It breeds by Öflusá River all the way up to Sog River which is the furthest from the sea that it breeds (20 km). The Eider is the most common duck in Iceland, the breeding population counting around 300,000 pairs. The male is black and white and the female is brown.

Eiders by the river mouth of Ölfusá River
Eiders by the river mouth of Ölfusá River