Named for its golden yellow eye, the male's dark head is, actually, glossy green. Both sexes have distinctive puffy heads and white wing patches seen in flight. Legs and feet are orange-yellow.
Adult female Common Goldeneyes have a warm, brown head, set off with a white neck ring, and a mostly grey body. The bill is dark.
In flight, their wings produce a loud whistling sound, easily identified even when the birds cannot be seen. Hunters used to call this species the "Whistler".
This duck breeds from Alaska, across Canada to the Maritimes and south to Montana and the Great Lakes.
During courtship, the male stretches his head forward along the water then snaps it upward over his back, his bill pointing skyward. Orange feet come forward sending up a shower of water before him. This all takes place on wooded lakes and ponds.
Calls or song.
During the courting maneuver, the male calls in a high-pitched,"jeee-ep".
Population and distribution.
Most "Common Goldeneye" winter in protected coastal waters or open inland waters in the more temperate latitudes of the United States.
Naturally, they nest in cavities in large trees. They will readily use nesting boxes, also. The female "Common Goldeneye" lays 8-12 pale green eggs in a mass of down.