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Eider

Somateria mollissima

Éadar

Status: Resident along rocky coasts in the north and north-west of Ireland.

Conservation Concern: Amber-listed Ireland due to the maority of Eiders wintering at less than ten sites.The European population is regarded as Secure.

Identification: Large and heavy-built, with short neck, large head, long wedge-shaped bill. Birds seen in irregular - loose clusters. Males largely white with black belly, sides and stern. Head white with black crown, and pale green on sides of the nape.

Similar Species: Adult male is unmistakable. Females and immatures resemble other duck species.

Call: Male with cooing display-call, and a far carrying 'a-ooh-e'.

Diet: They generally feed by diving in waters up to 20 m depth, feeding predominantly on mussels, other molluscs, crustaceans and echinoderms.

Breeding: Eider nest colonially on offshore islets, along low-lying coast, usually where the threat of mammalian predation is minimal. Eider seldom occur far from the sea throughout the year. They breed around the coast of Scotland and northern England and along the north and northwest coasts of Ireland. Up to 100 pairs have been estimated in Ireland.

Wintering: Occurs on shallow, inshore coastal waters, near estuary mouths mostly along the northwest and northeast coastlines.

Where to See: Belfast Lough in County Down and Outer Ards in County Down regularly supports almost 1,000 & 500 birds respectively. Lough Foyle in County Derry, Strangford Lough in County Down, Larne Lough in County Antrim and the Streedagh Estuary in County Sligo are other well-used wintering sites.

Monitored by: Irish Wetland Bird Survey. 

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