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Common Goldeneye Ducklings Fledging

Common Goldeneyes, also called “Whistlers” because of the noise their wings make in flight, are a boreal-nesting species of duck.  The eyes for which Common Goldeneyes are named have’t always been gold! They are gray-brown at hatching and turn purple-blue, then blue, then green-blue as they age. By five months of age they have become clear pale green-yellow. Adult males have bright yellow eyes, and females pale yellow to white.

Like Wood Ducks, Buffleheads and Hooded Mergansers, Common Goldeneyes are cavity nesters.   When it’s time to fledge (24-36 hours after the young hatch), the female flies repeatedly to the nest hole, and eventually sits below the cavity calling to her precocial young. They jump from the nest in rapid succession, joining her in the water if the tree is on the shoreline, or on land (they nest up to 8/10ths of a mile from water) if not.

The young swim and feed with ease immediately, and are diving within one to two days of leaving the nest. The female protects them and broods them at night and during bad weather for the first few weeks.  Even so, up to 56% of the young perish during their first week of life due to weather and predation.  (Thanks to Jody Crosby for photo op.)

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3 responses

  1. Alice

    What cute little fluff-balls! That’s sad that so many don’t survive. We have goslings in a small pond near here, who end up being snapper lunches.

    May 22, 2020 at 8:14 am

  2. Pat Thomas

    so sweet. thanks for starting our day with such beauty!

    May 22, 2020 at 9:06 am

  3. Rachael Cohen

    Josh, did you see these cuties!

    On Fri, May 22, 2020 at 8:02 AM Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > Mary Holland posted: ” Common Goldeneyes, also called “Whistlers” because > of the noise their wings make in flight, are a boreal-nesting species of > duck. The eyes for which Common Goldeneyes are named have’t always been > gold! They are gray-brown at hatching and turn purple-” >

    May 22, 2020 at 10:46 am

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