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The Ivory Bill·Birds·Ducks & Grebes

Common Goldeneyes, Bucephala clangula

Common goldeneyes standing on ice on a frozen lake

Common Goldeneyes are medium-sized diving ducks found across North America and Eurasia.

Common Goldeneyes are highly adaptable birds and can be found in a variety of freshwater habitats. They prefer nesting near boreal and temperate forests with access to small, wooded lakes, ponds, rivers, and marshes. During winter, they often move to coastal areas, estuaries, and larger bodies of open water. Their world range extends across the northern regions of North America, Europe, and Asia.

Goldeneyes are diving ducks that primarily feed on aquatic invertebrates such as insects, mollusks, crustaceans, and small fish. They are strong divers, capable of diving up to depths of 20 meters (66 feet) in search of their prey. They use their sharp bills to catch and consume their food underwater. During the breeding season, their diet may also include plant matter like seeds and aquatic vegetation.

Goldeneyes are known for their elaborate courtship displays, which involve head throwing, neck stretching, and various calls.

Females select their nest sites, typically in a natural cavity of a tree, usually close to water. However, they may also use nest boxes, rock crevices, or abandoned woodpecker holes for nesting. The female builds the nest by lining the cavity with down feathers, grasses, and other soft materials.  Common Goldeneye Nest Box Plans

After nest construction, female Common Goldeneyes lay 6-12 creamy-white eggs. Incubation lasts around 28-32 days and is primarily undertaken by the female, while the male guards the nesting site. Once the eggs hatch, the female leads the ducklings to the water within a day or two. The young ducklings are capable of diving and foraging for food almost immediately. The parents provide protection and guidance to the young birds until they are independent. Goldeneye ducklings usually fledge, or grow their flight feathers, within 60-70 days after hatching. The exact timing may vary depending on factors such as food availability and weather conditions.

Common Goldeneyes undertake long-distance migrations, with some populations traveling several thousand kilometers. They migrate from their northern breeding grounds to more southerly locations where open water remains available throughout the winter. They are known to form large flocks during migration and winter, often gathering in coastal areas, large lakes, and rivers across the US and western coastal Canada and Alaska.

Hobbyist-naturalists who provide duck boxes using advanced management methods have achieved greatly reduced duckling mortality rates, compared to naturally chosen cavities that are much more vulnerable to predators.