Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Female Common Goldeneye

Female Common Goldeneye - Bucephala clangula

The male goldeneyes left several months ago. After performing their courtship display continuously for several weeks, the males mated, and then left. Goldeneyes are single brooded, and when the male has fulfilled his brief but necessary role, the female incubates 6 to 11 eggs for 27 to 32 days, and then tends the young until the ducklings fledge at 51 to 60 days.
The nests are in natural cavities in trees or stumps, usually 6 to 60 feet up, and the newborn chicks drop unharmed to the ground within hours of hatching. 
Goldeneyes winter along the Elbow River and I saw up to a dozen male-female pairs this spring but I never saw a pair in one area consistently enough to imply nesting, and so far this summer I have seen only a solitary duckling, which might well have come from much further upstream. Perhaps there are not very many suitable nesting cavities along this part of the Elbow River?

The Atlas of Breeding Birds of Alberta. Federation of Alberta Naturalists. 2007.

Baicich PJ, Harrison CJO. Nests, Eggs, and Nestlings of North American Birds. Princeton UP. 2005.

Fisher C, Acorn J. Birds of Alberta. Lone Pine Publishing. Edmonton. 1998.

Sibley David A. The Sibley Guide to Birds. Alfred A Knopf, Inc. New York. 2000.

Sibley David A. The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior. Alfred A Knopf, Inc. New York. 2001.

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