COMMON GOLDENEYE (Bucephala clangula) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Common Goldeneye is a medium-sized diving duck. The breeding male has a dark iridescent green head, a black back and a black bill. There is a white patch behind the bill. The undersides are white. The female has a brown head and a grey body, and its bill is black with an orange tip.  Both sexes have black wings except for the secondaries, which are white. They also have yellow eyes and orange legs. The goldeneye head is quite large for the size of the body (hence the Latin name). These ducks are around 50 cm (20 inches) long.
NAME: The English name relates to the yellow iris of this duck. The Latin genus name ‘Bucephala’ means ‘bull’ and ‘head’, in reference to the large had of this species. As for the Latin species name ‘clangula’, it derives from ‘clangor’ which means ‘noise’, in reference to the sound made by this bird’s wings.
HABITAT: In the summer: taiga and boreal forest wetlands such as lakes, rivers and streams. In addition for the winter: coastal areas.
DIET: Aquatic insects, crustaceans and other invertebrates; also some vegetation.
NESTING: Common goldeneyes nest in large tree holes, but also in nest boxes. Around ten green eggs are laid, which are incubated by the female. She cares for the ducklings, but these can feed themselves.
DISTRIBUTION: This duck breeds in the boreal regions of Canada and Alaska, and the taiga of Eurasia.  It winters south of that range for most of the USA, and also in China, Japan and the UK. Vagrants have also been observed on Hawaii. (For information on bird vagrancy please see the note below).
ON PEI: The common goldeneye does not breed on Prince Edward Island, but is commonly seen every season except summer, when sightings are only occasional.
CONSERVATION: Common goldeneyes are legally hunted within limits to preserve the population. Their numbers appear stable and they are not considered at risk currently. However some forestry practices such as removing large trees might deprive these ducks of nesting locations. Providing nest boxes helps them.
Vagrancy: In biology this means an animal going way outside its normal range. For birds, this can happen when there are storms and they get blown off course. On other times, the bird simply wanders in a different direction than usual. Here’s an article about vagrancy in birds.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Barrow’s Goldeneye, Bufflehead
REFERENCES: (Maritimes Breeding Bird Atlas)

Common goldeneye pair, Ellen's Creek, PEI - © Denise Motard
Common goldeneye pair, Ellen's Creek, PEI
Common goldeneyes in North Rustico, PEI - by Matt Beardsley, Feb. 2017
Common goldeneyes in North Rustico,
PEI - by Matt Beardsley, Feb. 2017
In this video below of a common goldeneye pair, the male has an interesting way of swimming: