Somateria mollissima (Linn.), Syst. Nat. i. p. 198 (1766) ; (Naum.), xii. p. 252, Taf. 321 Hewitson, ii. p. 414, pl. cxv. fig. 3 ; Gould, B. of E. v. pl. 374 ; id. B. of Gt. Brit. v. pl. 26 ; Dresser, vi. p. 629, pl. 445 ; Salvadori, Oat. B. Br. Mus. xxvii. p. 425 ; Saunders, p. 459 ; Lilford, vii. p. 123, pl. 52.
Morillon, Eider, French ; Eidergans, German ; Eidereend, Dutch ; Edderand, Dan. ; Ejdergas, Estegg, Norweg. ; Ejder, Swed. AEdur, Icel. ; male Bliki, Handa, Lapp. ; Haahka, Finn. ; Gagka Normota, Russ.
Male ad. (Norway). Crown, forehead, and a wedge half-way to the nostrils black ; a white line on the sides of the crown, nape and hind portion of the auricular region pale sea-green ; cheeks, sides of neck, back, lesser and median tail-coverts white ; lower back, rump, upper tail-coverts, and greater wing-coverts black ; quills blackish brown, the inner secondaries sickle-shaped and white ; tail greyish brown ; throat white tinged with yellow on the lower part ; upper breast pale stone-colour ; rest of under parts black with a white patch on each side of the rump ; bill dull yellowish olivaceous ; legs light olive-green ; iris brown. Culmen 2.3, wing 11.6, tail 4.0, tarsus 1.75 inch. The female is dark brown barred and marked with sandy rufous, the sides of face and throat sandy, speckled with black ; two white alar bars ; middle of abdomen greyish brown with traces of black cross-bars. In the summer the male is chiefly dark brown or blackish, retaining the white only on the wing-coverts.
Hab. Europe, in the northern portions up to the northern end of the Gulf of Bothnia and the Arctic Ocean ; Iceland ; the Faeroes ; Spitsbergen ; occurs in winter on the coasts of continental Europe and has been obtained as far south as the Mediterranean ; Northern Asia east to the Yenesei. The form inhabiting Greenland and eastern Arctic America (S. borealis, Brehm) is doubtfully distinct. On the Atlantic coasts of N. America it is replaced by S. dresseri, Sharpe, differing but little in having the angle on the side of the forehead broad and rounded, and the black of the head bordered beneath by pale green for nearly its entire length.
Inhabits the sea-coasts, being but seldom found inland, and feeds on crustaceans, mussels, marine insects, &c., which it obtains chiefly by diving. The call-note of the male is a toler¬ably loud ah-oh, and that of the female a loud crock-crock. It breeds chiefly on islands off the sea-coast, and being in many places protected during the breeding season, is then very tame and confiding. The nest is a mere depression on the soil under a juniper bush or a stone, lined with twigs, bits of seaweed, and down, and it readily nests in places especially prepared for it, and its eggs and down are valuable commodities in Iceland and Norway. The eggs, 5 to 7, sometimes 8, in number, are greenish grey, and measure about 3.0 by 2.0.
873. Somateria mollissima