June 20th   Leave a comment

You might be wondering where all the male eiders have gone. Some have definitely left the area, congregating somewhere else on the east coast, but some are still here, just in camouflage. Ducks moult their wing feathers at the end of the breeding season making them unable to fly for a time. So the males lose their showy plumage the better to escape attention during their vulnerable period. Male eiders become almost black and when they are loafing among the rocks on the shore growing their feathers they are very inconspicuous. But it begs the question, what are they hiding from? Probably white-tailed eagles. We don’t have too many around Crail (yet) but almost everywhere else in Europe where there are eiders, there are white-tailed eagles.

A male eider at Balcomie on the way to its black eclipse plumage – they only keep a bit of white on the wing which is invisible when closed
And another nearby further along in eclipse and showing the reason why – this one would find it very hard to fly

Posted June 20, 2020 by wildcrail in Sightings

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