An eider duck (and there are only four species) breeding far into the High Arctic and all round the North Pole. Flocks come South for the winter but seldom does a persistent individual get lost and regularly join its commoner brethren in Britain - when it does it assumes a VIP status and gets regular visits from listers wanting it for their annual tick lists.
It is a real sea-duck and the spotting of the one bird among a big, bobbing flock of Eider is not simple. Unless it is a male (or you are a particular expert) you may do better to forget it - although the bill structure is different and if you look into their eyes you will know! Males are easy. The back is black and not white and the bill and front of the face are orange (or yellow in immatures) with an enlarged knob. This used to be prized by the Inuit who ate them raw as soon as they were hunted. It contains important vitamins.
A rare eider for most people to see.
The following Bird On! picture is available:
King Eider (Watercolour by Robert Gillmor)
Length 550 mm Closed wing 273 mm Weight 1700 gms
A Bird On! Sketch by Chris Mead
Copyright © 1996 by Jacobi Jayne & Company and Chris Mead