The Origin of Eiderdown: The Eider Duck
The Common Eider (Somateria mollissima) is a large sized sea duck that is found in the northern coasts of Europe, North America and eastern Siberia. Eiders breed in the Arctic and a few northern temperate regions, but winter farther south in temperate zones--that is, when they can gather in large flocks on fit coastal waters.
The female eider duck's nest is built near the sea and is lined with the feted eiderdown plucked from her breast. This cozy lining was (and in a few areas, still is) harvested for stuffing eiderdown pillows and eiderdown quilts. This practice has largely been replaced by farming and filling with domestically raised goose down or synthetic materials. The eiderdown harvest is sustainable and harmless for the birds as it can be performed after the ducklings abandon the nest.