Slow start for Eiders

Tuesday 2nd May comments: The breeding season has felt slow at times and this is reflected with the number of Eiders currently nesting. The first female was discovered incubating from 16th April but numbers have been low but there is no need for concern.

Large numbers of Eiders are gathering around the island and on the islands loch, with hundreds of displaying males and females preparing to move up. Birds can actually delay their breeding season if they are not in good enough body condition but it looks like things will get back to normal very soon.

Female Eiders nest all over the Isle of May, sometimes on pathways (so you have to watch your feet when walking) and generally have a clutch of 4-6 eggs. Females will sit tight on the nest for the entire duration of the incubation period (which is approximately 26 days) and during this period females can lose 40% of their body weight and as a result have to be in good condition before nesting. Within 24 hours of the chicks hatching, the females will take the young to sea. Birds will form large crèches as young and adults from a multitude of nests will just mix as young grow bigger and stronger as they head towards independence. On the Isle of May the loch in the centre of the island is an ideal location for taking their young in the first few days. Eventually all adults and young will move off towards the nearby coastlines where chicks will be raised. Predation by large gulls is one of the main threats to the youngsters.   

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