Male Common Goldeneye, Idlewild Park. Dec 13, 2015.

Male Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) in Idlewild Park, Reno, NV. Dec 13, 2015. Photo: Kelsey Fitzgerald.

Common Goldeneye
Bucephala clangula
  • Medium-sized diving duck.
  • Pale yellow/white colored eyes.
  • Females have brown head, gray body, flecks of white.
  • During breeding season, Males have greenish-black head with oval circle of white on side of face. Black on back, white on belly and breast.
  • Outside of the breeding season, male resembles female (brown head, gray body).
  • Wings whistle in flight.
Record Observations
Species Description

The Common Goldeneye is a winter visitor to the Truckee River region, normally present between November and March (see ebird database).  During this time, they are often seen on the Truckee River in Reno, and are also frequent visitors to Lake Tahoe, the Truckee’s upstream storage reservoirs (Stampede, Boca, Donner Lake and others) and Pyramid Lake.

Common Goldeneye spend most of their lives on the water, swimming and diving as they feed on aquatic insects, mollusks, crustaceans or small fish.  Males begin doing courtship displays during December through January (Eadie et al. 1995), so if you watch patiently, you might see this happen; Courtship displays often take place between small groups of approximately four males and one female Goldeneye, and involve dips, nods, head-throws and kicks (Eadie et al. 1995).  Here is a video of courtship in action.

During late February, Common Goldeneye begin traveling north to Canada and Alaska, where they spend summer months nesting in tree cavities near lakes and wetlands in boreal forests (Eadie et al. 1995).

References & Links

All About Birds – Common Goldeneye.  Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Available:

Eadie, J. M., M. L. Mallory and H. G. Lumsden. 1995. Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online:


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