[CT Birds] Common Eiders in CT waters

David F Provencher david.f.provencher at dom.com
Wed Dec 16 13:46:06 EST 2009

This is certainly shaping up to be a noteworthy year for Common Eider in CT waters. Glenn does succinctly point out the limitations on nesting sites here however. Additionally, Eiders nesting is usually very negatively impacted by Gull nesting proximity. Population trends on the races of Common Eider seems a bit sketchy with not enough solid census data and what data is available seems a bit contradictory. Eider populations have risen and dropped dramatically over the years, mostly attributable to human caused impacts. Indeed the estimate for Eiders taken by hunters in New England stood at 23,000 for 2004 and in the nineteenth century Eiders were very nearly lost as breeders in all of New England due to hunting and other human caused pressures. Obviously with the protections put in place during the twentieth century there has been a recovery in New England waters. While "American" Common Eider (race dresseri) may be slightly increasing in numbers now by some estimates, the data compilation to date seems less than optimally acquired. However It certainly seems accurate to say the species taken as a whole has declined significantly and the potential for renewed dresseri population loss is real and worrying since there is real economic value in Eider harvesting. My guess on the occurrence of more Eiders in CT waters is that the bird's increased wintering distribution into LI Sound is probably more a reflection of food source changes and other dynamics rather than more birds. In the recent past there have been quite a few Eiders in the vicinity of LI Sound even if they weren't venturing in, other than in very low numbers or in search of calmer waters during major storms. So it will be very interesting to see what happens in subsequent years and I would be very interested indeed to hear any more solid info anyone has on recent/current populations studies being done on dresseri or borealis.

Dave Provencher
Naturally New England<http://naturallynewengland.blogspot.com/>

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