A Common Goldeneye is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Common Goldeneyes. We have also put together a list of fun Common Goldeneye t-shirts, Common Goldeneye bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird-watching items.
About Common Goldeneyes
The Common Goldeneye (Buvephala Clangula) is a close relative of the Barrow Goldeneye known for moving in flocks.
Description and Identification
Adult Male Common Goldeneyes are 18-20 inches long and weigh about 2.2 pounds, while the
females are slightly smaller in weight and size. These ducks have a wingspan of about 30.3-32.7
inches. Their distinct golden-eye has earned the species their name. Males can be identified by the
white patch below their eyes and their dark heads which have a green shimmer. They also have a
white neck and belly, and a dark back. Females have predominantly gray plumage and brown
heads. The legs and feet of both males and females are orange-yellow. Common Goldeneyes are very
hostile ducks that do not mix well with other ducks. Hunters have named these ducks “Whistlers”
because their wings make a whistling sound when in flight.
Common Goldeneye Color Pattern
The adult male Common Goldeneye is mostly black and white with a black greenish head with the exception of a white spot near its bill. It has a very distinct yellow eye. Females, on the other hand, have dark brown heads and gray wings and back. Her bill is black and yellow at the tip.
Common Goldeneye Size
Common goldeneyes are medium-sized birds with large heads. Their bills is small and narrow that gives their head a triangular shape due to its downwards slope. Being diving ducks, they have very streamlined bodies.
The relative size for both sexes is:
- Length: 15.8-20.1 in (40-51 cm)
- Weight: 21.2-45.9 oz (600-1300 g)
- Wingspan: 30.3-32.7 in (77-83 cm)
Common Goldeneye Behavior
- Common Goldeneyes are diving birds that hunt in flocks in simultaneous dives. They forage in shallow waters that are only 20 feet deep.
- If the female bird is around when the male is hunting, he will put a show for her by stretching its head backward against its back.
Common Goldeneye Food
Common Goldeneyes are diving ducks that obtain their food underwater. Crustaceans, insects, and
mollusks make up a majority of their diet. Their diet varies heavily with habitat and season.
Crustaceans and mollusks such as crabs, shrimps, crayfish, barnacles, amphipods, and mussels are
their preferred source of nutrition during winter and migration. While nesting they generally survive
on aquatic insects such as beetles, damselflies, mayflies, and water boatmen. Sometimes they
also eat some fish and their eggs. Vegetation such as seeds of pondweed, bulrush, and
spatterdock also makes up a small portion of their diet. Common Goldeneyes aggressively try to
dominate other ducks in their feeding area. These ducks are also commonly predated by owls,
hawks, eagles, and bears. Bears are known to eat entire broods along with the female ducks.
Common Goldeneye’s mostly eat aquatic plants, small fish, crustaceans, insects and mollusks.
Common Goldeneye Habitat
Common Goldeneyes reside in northern lakes and rivers surrounded by boreal forests during the
breeding season. Trees are essential during this time because they use tree cavities for nesting.
These ducks prefer lakes that have an abundant supply of invertebrates. Usually, lakes in which
predatory fish are absent have a large number of invertebrates and are therefore preferred. During
winters Common Goldeneyes move to coastal marine and estuarine habitats. These ducks prefer
areas with shallow water and a slow current, although they are well equipped to forage in regions
with strong currents. Waterbodies with substrates of boulders, gravel, sand, and rock are chosen
as they facilitate crustaceans and mollusks.
During the breeding season, the Common Goldeneye can be found along lakes and rivers. This bird prefers mature forest areas that provide them with ample nooks in trees for nesting. However, during the winter season, they much prefer sandy bottoms and areas with stone or gravel.
Range and Migration
Common Goldeneyes are medium-sized ducks that are commonly found in North America and
Eurasia. Their breeding regions are located in higher latitudes in Scandinavia, northern Europe,
Scotland, and most of Canada. During winter they can be located in North America and the
northern Gulf of Mexico.
Common Goldeneye Life Cycle
During mating season, the male Common Goldeneye draws the female’s attention by producing a shriek piercing sound while stretching out its head. After mating the female will then lay 8-12 pale green eggs. At just a few days old the youngling will leave the nest and form groups of crèches with other ducklings.
Common Goldeneye Life Nesting
Common Goldeneyes form pairs in early December, which last until the females are abandoned by
the males during incubation. From December to March, the males court the females by using
elaborate courtship displays. Several males are known to court one female. The most common
nesting sites for these birds are natural tree cavities, often made available by large woodpeckers.
Female Goldeneyes lay about 4-12 eggs which they incubate for a period of 28-32 days. The
younglings leave their nests in about 24-36 hours.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Common Goldeneyes
The most common types of bird-watching binoculars for viewing Common Goldeneyes are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
Common Goldeneye T-shirts
If you love the Common Goldeneye you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Common Goldeneye Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron-on patches. Our bird-watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen and identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Common Goldeneye is a great iron-on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Common Goldeneye Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Common Goldeneye. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders for Common Goldeneyes
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Common Goldeneyes
There are many types of birdhouses. Building a birdhouse is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 birdhouses have become our favorites. Getting a birdhouse for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these birdhouses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.