Common Goldeneye

(Bucephala clangula). Patient Number 23-39.

Date of admission: March 12, 2023.
Reason for admission: Hypothermic/grounded.

Patient History:

Common goldeneyes are medium-sized ducks that have a unique appearance and can be easily identified by their amber eyes and large head. Male goldeneyes have black and white wings and a body with a dark green head. The females have brown heads with black and white bodies. Common goldeneye ducklings have black and white patches on their body. Common goldeneyes change to multiple colors as they reach maturity. First purple-blue and then blue to green-blue. When they change to green-yellow they are about five months old.

Common Goldeneyes feed mainly on aquatic invertebrates, fish, and fish eggs, plus some vegetation like tubers, pond weeds, and seeds. Goldeneyes can also eat crustaceans, mollusks, and insect prey like crabs, shrimp, barnacles, and beetles. They can be found across North America swimming in large rivers, and lakes, and even on the Atlantic and Pacific Gulf coasts in the winter.

Common goldeneyes can fly over 65km an hour. While flying, their wings have been found to make a distinctive whistling noise. Goldeneyes can be found diving synchronously for prey and are very strong swimmers. They can dive for up to a minute and swim underwater by kicking with their feet and holding their wings tight to their body.

Mating goldeneyes form pairs in early December staying together until the early incubation period at which time the male leaves. Common goldeneyes breed in the boreal forest of Canada and Alaska, nesting in tree cavities near lakes, rivers, or wetlands. The nestling sites are about 8 to 47 inches and are quite often made by woodpeckers. Common goldeneye will also use nest boxes with dark interiors and wood shavings for the nesting material. Female ducks like to use the nesting materials already in the tree cavities such as an old squirrel nest, they then insulate the nest by plucking their own down feathers. Eggs are green ranging from blue-green to olive-green and are incubated for 27 to 33 days. The ducklings leave the nest as soon as one day after hatching. They are alert, fully feathered, and can already feed themselves at one day old. They only need to stay with their mom for protection. The clutch sizes can range from 4 to 9 ducklings but we have even received clutches of 12 orphaned ducklings before.

This male common goldeneye was rescued after being found grounded in a snowbank by the side of the road. He was hypothermic and covered in ice upon arrival, but after a few weeks in supportive care, he is improving substantially. He will remain with us for a little while still until it is safe to release him on a body of water. Thank you so much for supporting this goldeneye!

Common Goldeneye

Our Adoption Program Includes:

  • An 8x10 colour photo of the patient
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