Common Name

Scientific Name

Photo by Unknown Photographer
Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The common goldeneye, Bucephala clangula, is a diving duck that breeds along lakes, ponds, and rivers in northern boreal forests in Eurasia, Alaska, sub-arctic Canada, and along the northern border of the United States. North American populations winter primarily along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Canada and the United States, although some flocks will move into the interior of the United States along major rivers. In Utah, the common goldeneye is a common transient during spring and fall migrations, though it is not uncommon for individuals to remain throughout the winter.

The diet of the common goldeneye varies with the type of water body. In fresh water, they eat mostly aquatic insects, crayfish, and fish, whereas in salt water, they eat primarily crustaceans and mollusks. Common goldeneyes float along the surface of shallow water, dive under the water's surface, and then swim after the prey item. Males participate in courtship displays for several months, and monogamous pair bonds are formed. Females that have previously bred will generally return to the same nesting location. Other females will form groups and search for potential nest sites. A female selects a nest cavity in a live or dead tree within a couple kilometers of the shoreline, and then lines it with chips and down. Where nesting sites are limited, females will lay their eggs in other female's nests, resulting in clutches of as many as 30 eggs. Normally a single female will lay a clutch of seven to ten eggs over a period of approximately two weeks. The female incubates the eggs for about a month, and the male abandons the nest just a week or so after she begins incubating. The young all hatch within 12 hours of each other, and they leave the nest just a day or two after hatching. The chicks are highly independent and are able to find their own food when they leave the nest; however, they will remain with their mother for an additional five to six weeks.


  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birderís handbook[:] a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon & Schuster, New York. xxx + 785 pp.

  • Behle, W. H., Sorensen, E. D. and C. M. White. 1985. Utah birds: a revised checklist. Utah Museum of Natural History, Occasional Publication No. 4. Salt Lake City, UT.

  • Eadie, J. M., M. L. Mallory, and H. G. Lumsden. 1995. Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula). Birds of North America 170.