The Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) is a medium-sized bird in the duck family. It is a diving duck. It is a sea duck, living in marine (saltwater) locations, but it breeds in freshwater lakes. It is related to the Smew.
The Common Goldeneye has prominent golden eyes. The male has a dark head with greenish iridescent feathers and a round white patch below its eyes. It has a dark back, a white neck, white sides, and a white chest. The female has a brown head and a mostly grey body. Both males and females have a yellowish beak, yellow legs, and orange-yellow webbed feet. Its beak is grey, although the female has a yellow tipped beak.
It grows to 40-51 centimetres (16-20 inches) in length, with a wingspan of 65-80 centimetres (26-31 inches).
The Common Goldeneye is native to the lakes and rivers across Canada, northern United States of America, Scandinavia, the Baltic States, and northern Russia. It prefers wetlands, pools, slow-moving rivers, estuaries, bays, sheltered coasts, and inland lakes. It is migratory and flies south in winter to warmer locations.
It feeds on shrimps, crabs, molluscs, fish, worms, frogs, leeches and sometimes aquatic plants.
It is often seen in flocks. The male is called a drake, and the female is called a duck. They form a monogamous pair. It nests in tree holes.
The female lays 6-9 cream-coloured eggs, which hatch after 28-32 days. The chicks are precocial at birth, which means that they have some feathers and become independent quickly.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM