Common Goldeneye

Photo: Liron Gertsman

Common Name

Common Goldeneye

Species Name

Bucephala clangula


40-51 cm length | 77-83 cm wingspan | 600-1300 gm weight

A medium-sized diving duck with a relatively large head. Very similar in appearance to the Barrow’s Goldeneye, the male has a black back, an iridescent black-green head with a large, white cheek spot, black bill and golden-yellow eyes. The underside is white and the wings are white with diagonal black stripes. Feet and legs are orange. The female is greyish instead of black with a brown head.  



Piscivore | Wetlands, rivers, lakes, coasts, ponds

Piscivore: an animal whose diet consists mostly of fish.

Inhabits ponds, lakes and rivers of boreal forests, breeds in swampy northern coniferous forests, and can otherwise be found in sheltered coastal bays or inland waters during migration. While their diet consists mostly of fish, Goldeneyes will forage underwater for crustaceans, aquatic insects, molluscs, and aquatic plants as well. 


Monogamous | Cavity nester, brood parasite | 5-16 eggs

This cavity nesting duck makes use of the holes left by broken off branches or those made by large woodpeckers such as the Pileated or Black Woodpecker. The male abandons the female within days of the start of incubation. A behaviour called brood parasitism – where eggs are laid in the nests of other birds to trick the host parents into raising the brood parasite’s young – is common. It may occur between other Goldeneyes as well as other types of birds such as grebes, loons and even starlings.



Where can you learn more during Vancouver Bird Week?


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For all Vancouver Bird Week events and activities click here. 

Related Links

Common Goldeneye or Barrow’s Goldeneye? These two species are very similar looking. So how do you tell the difference? The Barrow’s Goldeneye male has a white body, black back and black head, but unlike the Common Goldeneye, it has more black on its sides, a stubbier bill and crescent-shaped (rather than round) white spot in front of the eye. The female Common Goldeneye can be distinguished from the female Barrow’s Goldeneye by its orange-yellow bill.