Eider down is the only down that is hand-collected from the nests of wild, free-nesting birds.
Eider down harvesting has been
practised for a millennium
Eider down has unique properties that have been recognized by Icelanders for over a millennium and for at least three centuries by the first inhabitants of New France. The first French settlers, overwhelmed by the harshness of Canadian winters, negotiated the purchase of eiderdown from the Amerindians of the Lower North Shore.
Eider duck lives in the icy waters of the Northern Hemisphere.
During nesting, female eiders line their nests with the down plucked from their own underbellies. This Hand-collected eider down is a remarkable natural insulator endowed with unique properties.
Today, eiderdown is only
harvested in a few regions of the world.
The not-for-profit organization, Societe Duvetnor, operates this activity by following a strict regulation that was initially introduced by Duvetnor administrators to the federal government of Canada.
Société Duvetnor Ltée.
When viewed in strictly economic terms, eiderdown harvesting makes only a minor contribution to the national economy. It takes on its full meaning, however, when viewed in a broader context. The Société Duvetnor has introduced a method of harvesting down in the St. Lawrence estuary that established an extraordinary partnership between humans and eider: In exchange for this exclusive natural product with unrivalled characteristics, humans guarantee the protection of its nesting habitat.
Extremely attached to its nesting island,
the female returns year after year.
Quebec's birds sanctuaries on the islands in the St. Lawrence Estuary provide a relatively safe place for the eider ducks to rest and nest during their annual migration.
Roughly 18% of
the world’s eider down comes from Canada.
70% comes from Iceland and the remainder from Finland, Norway, Greenland and Siberia (Russia).
The annual yield of eider down worldwide amounts to only a precious few tonnes. By contrast, tens of thousands of tons of goose down are produced each year. Canada produces about 1 tonne (t) per year but only a portion of this quantity comes from the St. Lawrence Estuary in Quebec and is arguably the most exclusive down in the world.