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Ducks Laying On A Treasure.. The Story of The Most Expensive Feathers in The World

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Ducks Laying On A Treasure.. The Story of The Most Expensive Feathers in The World
Arctic eider duck

 

On an island in the Gulf of Predjordur off the west coast of Iceland, work is on in search of the downy feathers of arctic eiders.


A kilogram of this luxurious feather sells for thousands of dollars and is made from the best quilts in the world.


As every summer, nearly 400 Icelandic farmers rummage through a rock, sand or tall grass to find a few handfuls of gray feathers for this species of Arctic duck, which has been nesting since May in this beautiful and dense seascape. low population.


"When there are eggs, we only take a part of the fluff. When the eiders leave the nest, we take everything," explains Erla Frederiksdottir, president of King Elder, one of the country's leading exporters of feathers.


Arctic eider ducks, a seabird in the polar regions, leave behind a natural treasure for those who seek warmth during cold weather.


The feathers of these birds are made of a type of natural fiber that is considered one of the warmest in the world and is characterized by its lightness and its strong ability to heat insulation at the same time.


The female of these birds, with dark brown feathers surrounded by black, separates the fluff from her chest to spread her nest in order to isolate it during the incubation period.


The production of a kilogram of feathers requires the use of about 60 nests, and making each quilt requires between 600 and 1600 grams of these feathers, depending on the required quality.


The global yield of this very luxurious product does not exceed 4 tons, 3 of which come from Iceland, which by a large margin leads the list of countries producing this feather in front of Canada and other countries close to the Arctic.


Thorough cleaning


On the island of Bjarnar, residents of many generations are busy spotting any trace of nests, in a local tradition that likely began in Iceland during the colonization of Vikings from Norway at the end of the ninth century.


Since 1847, eiders have been fully protected in Iceland, where hunting and the use of their eggs is prohibited.


However, these birds face danger from many predators, including seagulls, crows, eagles, mink and foxes. However, experts in this animal species confirm that eiders know how to protect themselves.


"We feel that the ducks like to build their nests near us, where we live, so we think the predators may be staying at a distance thanks to us," says Erla's brother John Fredrickson.


Once harvested, the feathers are dried in the open air to prevent them from rotting, then staff at the company run by Erla begin the first stage of cleaning in a huge oven at 120 degrees Celsius for eight hours.


"When the feathers get here, they're full of grass, eggshells and all sorts of things from the ocean," explains Pal Jonsson, who runs the machines at the workshop in the nearby small town of Sticksholmore.


At a later stage, rotary machines remove other dirt from the feather by pressing it onto a fine wire mesh.


The final touch is handled by expert hands that no machine can replace, which is the final sorting stage: even for the most experienced, manual cleaning of a kilogram of eider feathers takes between 4 and 5 hours.


exorbitant prices


Finally, the feathers are washed with water and sterilized by hand again before squeezing and drying.


The production of the feathers of the world-famous eider is a drop in the sea of ​​global feather production, estimated at 175,000 tons annually, according to the International Down and Feathers Office.


In addition to their geographical rarity, the path that eider feathers take, from manual assembly to meticulous cleaning, explains their high price: a simple quilt containing 800 grams of these feathers sells for 640,000 ISK ($5,100).


As for the identity of the customers of this luxury product, Erla Frederiksdottir explains: "Often they are nature lovers and environmentalists", because "the only species that is harvested, while the other types are often by-products of the food industry."


Icelandic SMEs mainly export these products to Japan and Germany.




Source  al-ain

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