Common Goldeneyes are by
far the more common and
numerous goldeneye found in the state, with the
Barrow's Goldeneye being only a rare
visitor. Hunters often refer to them as
"whistlers" due to the tendency of their wings to make a whistling
sound in flight. Historical records indicate the species may have once
nested in the state, but no confirmed nesting has occurred in decades.
With a warming climate, it's likely normal breeding range will continue to move
further away from South Dakota in the future.
Habitat: Nests in tree cavities, so requires trees
near water bodies during the summer breeding season. During migration
and in winter, can be found in a wide variety of aquatic habitats, from
coastal areas to inland lakes and rivers.
Diet: Insects, crustaceans, small fish,
and some vegetation.
Behavior: Common Goldeneyes are diving ducks, with
the vast majority of food obtained from underwater. They will also
occasionally feed like a dabbling duck at the water's surface.
Breeding: Currently a non-breeder in South Dakota.
In their normal breeding range, they typically use a tree cavity for nesting,
such as an old woodpecker hole. In recent decades they have also started
using nest boxes. The nest cavity itself is lined with down, and the
between 6 and 16 eggs are laid. The female alone incubates the eggs, which hatch
after about 4 weeks. Females remember their own hatching location, and
often return to the same location to breed themselves. The same nesting
cavity is often used for multiple years by the same female.
Song: Grating cry from the male during courtship.
Migration: Winters throughout most of the United
States, summers in Canada and Alaska.
Conservation Status: Populations appear to be
stable, and they are quite common in many parts of their range. The species will use nest boxes, and populations increases may
have occurred in some locations.
The IUCN considers the
Common Goldeneye to be a species of "Least Concern".
South Dakota "Hotspot": The species can be found
in open water all over the state during migration. In wintertime,
concentrations often are found in the open water below the Missouri River
Cornell University's "All About Birds - Common Goldeneye"
eNature.com: Common Goldeneye
Photo Information: January 28th, 2007 - Missouri
River near Pierre - Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Common Goldeneye photos.