The big sea-duck breeding all round the Northern coasts except off Siberia. This is a bulky bird which seems to swim low in the water. The males look white above and black below at a distance but they have black to their crowns and pale green on their napes - in flight they are white in front and black behind. Females are brown and all are very characteristically triangular billed with the contour of the forehead and bill merging.
These ducks are the providers of down for high class duvets from huge colonies in Iceland and elsewhere. Protection has helped them and they are increasing in Britain and Northern Ireland - about 32,000 pairs breed. Some populations are migratory and British bred birds fairly frequently abmigrate to breed as far away as Finland.
A familiar sea-duck of the Atlantic and Pacific.
Length 600 mm Closed wing 290 mm Weight 2000 gms
A Bird On! Sketch by Chris Mead
Copyright © 1996 by Jacobi Jayne & Company and Chris Mead