The Eider Islands are a cluster of 172 small islands in the southeastern arctic, situated along the western side of Ungava Bay. The closest settlement is the Inuit community of Quaqtaq (Koartac), about 20 km to the southwest near away by Cape Hopes Advance. The solid rock that underlies these islands is a granitic gneiss. On top of this bedrock is a thin layer of soil supporting tundra plants such as Arctic Willow, Crowberry, sedge, lichen and moss. The wide, bare rock shorelines found on these islands are formed by the high tides (up to 16 m), which move ice up and down the shoreline.
Large numbers of nesting Common Eiders frequent this archipelago of small islands. On average, 25 Common Eider nests are found on each island. In total, 4,100 nests were recorded from this area in 1980. This may represent as much as 4.4% of the Northern Common Eider (ssp. borealis) population. The borealis subspecies, which breeds in the northeastern Arctic, is one of four Common Eider subspecies.
The Common Eiders arrive in the Ungava Peninsula in late May. Once the ice has broken up, nesting activities start. The males leave the area once the eggs are laid and fly westward at least 60 km to moulting areas along the coast. The females leave the Eider Islands in early to mid August with their young.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Although Inuit communities near the Eider Islands harvest eider eggs and adult birds, the harvest is small and is thought to have an insignificant affect on the overall eider population. As with many other arctic sites, only a significant increase in human activity is likely to threaten the nesting eiders.