Length: 15-20 Weight: 1.5-3 lbs
Male is white below and heavily white barred along wings, with a large iridescent green head and white oval behind bill (compared to tear-shape in Barrow’s Goldeneye). Female is mostly gray with a dark brown head, and bill mostly black (compared to mostly yellow in Barrow’s).
Breed in Alaska and northern Canada. Winter across the continental US and slightly into Mexico.
The Genus name for Goldeneyes, Bucephala, comes from the Greek word boukephalos meaning “bull headed.” This name refers to the relatively enlarged head of these ducks.
Adults Goldeneyes have distinctive golden-yellow eyes, but chicks are born with brown eyes. Their eye color transitions to blue, then green-blue, then green-yellow as they mature.
The Common Goldeneyes’ wings make a distinctive whistle in flight, resulting in these birds colloquially being known as “whistlers.”
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