The eider book announcement

It is a pleasure for me to announce that my mate Alexandra’s mega-project of the last four or five years, the book on the relationship between the Common eider and Man, has its end in sight. My role was that of a translator and occasionally a lightning rod for the outbursts of the author’s anger at the world dearing to interfere with the process.

Below is a letter from Alexandra to all those interested in acquiring the book or perhaps helping financially in its printing.

Dear friends and colleagues,

The preparation of a popular science book on the world-wide history of the relationship between humans and the eiders – A Wild Bird and a Cultured Man (The Common Eider and Homo Sapiens: Fourteen Centuries Together) – for printing is nearing its end.

The author is the biologist and historian of science Alexandra Goryashko.  This letter is to inform you about the upcoming publication which will be published in both Russian and English versions.

We would be extremely grateful if you could inform us whether any of the members of your organisation are interested in acquiring the book as it would help us in deciding how many copies of the English version we should print.

In five years the author has succeeded in writing a unique book that covers every aspect of the subject, from finding the remains of the eiders at the locations of ancient human settlements and the emergence of the naming of the eider in various languages to works of art dedicated to the eider and legends related to it.

The book describes the development of the scientific concept of the eider from the middle of the 17th century up to the present day, the history and present state of eider farms, the history and current state of eider hunting and the collection of eider eggs, as well as the history and the present state of eider protection laws. The book includes the chapters dedicated to eider biology, the story of the study of eider down properties, and its present-day use. We would like to emphasise that the story of human and eider relationship in Russia, which is but very little known to the world community, makes up a significant part of the book, and will for the first time be made available in English.

Research undertaken by the author encompasses all parts of the world where humans interact with the eiders in one way or another. Over two hundred people from fifteen countries were involved in collecting information and illustrations for the book. The author has studied over four hundred literature and archive sources from the 9th to the 21st century, collected over three hundred archive and modern photographs, and for a number of years has actively participated in field work in eider nesting locations on the Kandalaksha Nature Reserve in Russia and on eider farms in Iceland. A significant number of documents and photographs presented in the book are published for the first time. The book comprises approximately 800 pages.

Scientific editors are A.V. Kondratyev (PhD) and M.V. Gavrilo (PhD). The consultants are M.V. Kalyakin (Dr.Sc.) and P.V. Kvartalnov (PhD). The translation into English was done by P. Voytinsky while David Leslie Urion edited the translation.

More information about the book can be found at

The book is published with the informational and financial support of the Russian M.A. Menzbir Society for the Preservation and Study of Birds, the Moscow State University Zoological Museum, the Association “Maritime Legacy: Study and Preserve”, the Barents section of the WWF of Russia, the charitable fund “The Centre of Wild Nature Protection”, the Murmansk Regional Public Organisation “the Kola Centre of Wild Nature Preservation” and the joint stock company “Arctic Down Company RU-IS”. In part,  the publication is financed by private donors,  but we are still actively seeking financial help to publish the book, and would be very grateful if your organisation or any of its members would be willing to kindly assist us. The author will be happy to receive any offers of financial support for this unique, highly informative and interesting book.

The current status: the Russian version (including scientific and literary editing), including the selection of illustrations, and the translation into English, as well as editing, has been completed. Typesetting has begun, with about half of the Russian version done at the moment.

Please let us know the number of copies you would like to receive by writing to

Mikhail Kalyakin,
Head of the board of directors of BirdsRussia, director of the Moscow State University Zoological Museum, and member of the European Bird Census Council

Evgeny Syroyechkovsky,
Director General of BirdsRussia

Alexandra Goryashko,
the author

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