NORTHERN / BOREAL EIDER Somateria mollissima

As mentioned, there are six subspecies of Common Eider. Two, the nominate and faroeensis breed in the UK, but there are also many records of Northern Eider, which is a general term for races breeding further north. Most of these are borealis, which breeds in the Arctic from Canada to Franz Josef Land, birds in the UK probably disperse from Iceland or Svalbard. Other races are sedentaria, confined to Hudson and James Bays, and two other Nearctic subspecies. One, dresseri, has probably occurred in the UK or Ireland, whilst the captive birds shown here are v-nigrum, which has a disjunct population in Alaska and Siberia. Easily distinguished from other subspecies, it is a potential split.

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