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Nature in it's glory

Nature in it's glory

May 5, 2010

Golden Eye Duck

Male Golen Eyed Duck in flight
The Golden Eye duck is a tiny diver that is much smaller than the Mallard duck and has very distinctive black and white coloring.  As usual there is more than one species of this beautiful little duck and they are not easily identified, although it is easier to distinguish a Buffelhead from a Common, or Barrow's Golden Eye.

Golden Eyed Ducks
The Golden Eye duck appears to be very shy of humans and easily startled.  The male above took flight at the sound of my camera, usually however, they will simply swim as far away from you as they can.  Golden Eye ducks are typically found in the lakes and rivers of the Boreal Forests here in Canada, so I am lucky that this particular pond seems to be a migratory rest stop for some of them.
Female Golden Eye

As typical with most ducks, the female has less flamboyant coloring, being gray with a brown head. Golden Eye ducks dive beneath the surface of the water to forage for food like crustaceans and plants and actually stay below the water's surface for quite some time.  They will nest in tree hollows or on the ground in sheltered areas.

Golden Eye male at rest
Their most notable feature is their golden eyes.  The first time I saw this duck, it was the female of the species that I saw and her golden eyes that got my attention more than anything else.  I didn't spot a male of the species until the next year and this year was the first time that I came across a mated pair. However, I have seen and photographed a pair of Buffelhead, another species of Golden Eye duck, which I didn't know to be related to the Common and Barrow's Golden Eye at the time.  Since they are easily distinguished from the other two species, this was a little surprising.

The pictures I have of a  pair of Buffelhead unfortunately are too blurry  to display here, so the following pictures are courtesy of wikipedia.  As you can see they appear to be quite different  from the Golden Eye ducks above.   For descriptions to help you distinguish between the different species of Golden Eye Ducks just follow the links below.

Female Buffelhead duck
Male Buffelhead



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