(Bucephala clangula). Patient Number 22-456 to 474.
Date of admission: June 7, 2022.
Reason for admission: Orphaned.
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 a black and white wings and body with a dark green head. The females have a brown head with a black and white body. Common goldeneye ducklings have a black and white patches on their body. Common goldeneyes change to multiple colors as they reach maturity. First purple-blue and then blue to a 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, 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 mom for protection. The clutch sizes can range from 4 to 9 ducklings but we have even received clutches of 12 orphaned ducklings before like the ones featured here.
These common goldeneyes were orphaned after their mother attempted to cross Barlow Trail in Calgary. We picked them up on June 7 and will care for them until they are old enough to go out on their own. We receive many goldeneye ducklings each year and have multiple-sized diving ponds to cater to their varying ages and sizes. As they grow, we move the ducklings up in water depth so that the young ducklings can experience shallow water and the older ducklings can practice diving before being released. Currently, we have over 20 Common goldeneyes in care and they are all growing rapidly and swimming well. Thank you so much for supporting these ducklings!