Common Goldeneyes

Common Goldeneye ducks floating along the Fox River in Appleton Wisconsin’s Lutz Park. Photo by Donna VanBuecken

There are a number of us who participate in the eagle monitoring program hosted by WDNR. We count the eagles we see along the Fox River for 90 minutes during sunrise, once a month during November through March. We often see other wildlife, especially waterfowl. This past Saturday, December 8, 2019, it was 10 degrees at sunrise; fog was rising from the water’s surface. As the sun rose higher in the sky and before I left my monitoring site, the fog was so dense you could hardly see across to the other side of the river.

Common Goldeneye Ducks

The distinct coloring of the male goldeneye is shown beautifully in the photo below. With their white body and black back and their greenish-black head with a white spot on each side of their face, the males stood out even in the fog.

A pair of Common Goldeneyes (Bucephala clangula). Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In the video below I’ve recorded a flock of Common Goldeneye ducks lifting off the water. If you listen closely, you’ll hear the whistling of their wingbeats. They would fly west down the river and then float back. Ah! The life of a duck!!

“Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) is a Special Concern species in Wisconsin. It is a medium-sized diving duck with a chunky body and a large head. The males are white with a black back. The head is greenish-black with a white spot on each side of the face. The females have a light-brown head. They have a white belly, breast and flanks, interfaced with a gray back, wings and tail. Both sexes have a distinctive bright yellow to pale yellow eyes.

The species is an uncommon breeder in Wisconsin that nests in cavities with most individuals seen here (in Wisconsin) during migration or winter. During the breeding season, it is found near ponds, lakes, and rivers in woodland areas. The clutch size varies from 5 to 16 eggs that are incubated by the female for 28 to 32 days. The species is threatened by the impacts of pesticides, deforestation, as well as decreased water quality. The recommended avoidance period for this species is April 10 – July 10.” (WDNR)

Added note: Common Goldeneyes can reach speeds of 40 mph in flight.

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