It’s just like the high-pitched HA-ha of the white-fronted goose, the raucous cackle of the rooster ring-neck pheasant, or the chattering bark of an upset fox squirrel. When you’ve heard the pre-dawn whistle of wings and a flight quick sufficient to rival the velocity of sound, you’ll by no means mistake the goldeneye duck for every other species of waterfowl on the planet.

No, the goldeneyes don’t get the identical respect because the coveted drake mallard, the cautious bull sprig, or the lordly canvasback, however that’s to not say these fast-flying members of the diver clan don’t present simply as nice a searching problem to any waterfowl hunter.

Look and Vocalization

First issues first, because it’s necessary to know there are two subspecies of goldeneye that hunters can encounter all through North America—the frequent goldeneye, and the rarer Barrow’s goldeneye. Each are comparable in look, however with some noteworthy variations.

The drake frequent goldeneye is a medium-sized duck. He’s primarily black and white general, with an iridescent greenish-black head, distinctive yellow eyes, and a brief stubby black invoice. Like most divers, he rides low within the water, together with his tail touching the floor. The true identifier for the frequent goldeneye is the drake’s spherical white facial patch situated in entrance of and barely under his eye. In distinction, the hen frequent goldeneye is a mottled gray-white entrance to again. She sports activities a delicate white neck ring, brown head, and the identical sturdy invoice, hers tipped in a lighter pink. 

The drake Barrow’s goldeneye is nearly a mirror picture of the frequent, however as an alternative of the round white facial patch, the Barrow’s reveals an oval or crescent-shaped marking forward of the attention. The Barrow’s head, although much like the frequent’s, will typically exhibit a purple-green hue, and he’s a bit extra outlined or separated in his black-and-white general coloration. Like her frequent counterpart, the hen Barrow’s goldeneye is a mottled brownish-grey, with an all-brown head, off-white eye, and stubby gentle orange-yellow invoice tipped in black.

Each the frequent and Barrow’s goldeneyes are comparatively quiet birds, with the hens making a comfortable cooing, whereas the drakes name with what would possibly finest be described as a gravelly croaking peep or growl. Likewise, each subspecies will be recognized by the distinctive whistling of their wings in flight, the quantity typically accentuated throughout chilly climate and a sound which has earned the Goldeneye the nickname, “whistler.”

Goldeneye Duck Distribution

Frequent goldeneyes breed and nest all through the boreal forests of Canada and north into Alaska. Nevertheless, the winter migration will see these good-looking “tuxedo” geese transferring southward into the Decrease 48 from the Chesapeake Bay west to the Columbia River. 

In line with analysis accomplished and documentation provided by the Joint Sea Duck Enterprise, two populations of Barrow’s goldeneye exist in North America. The western inhabitants begins life primarily within the British Columbia inside, with off-shoots reaching north into south-central Alaska. Wintering populations of this western phase will be present in Washington and Oregon south to San Francisco Bay and east into the western foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Conversely, the jap inhabitants of Barrow’s goldeneyes historically winter within the St. Lawrence River estuary east to Maine. 

Habitat and habits

Not like mallard hens that construct conventional bowl-shaped nests among the many reeds and different cowl, goldeneyes, like wooden geese and hooded mergansers, are cavity nesters. Adobe Inventory / Susan Hodgson

Goldeneyes are open-water diving geese, a fan of huge lakes and rivers all through North America. Nevertheless, late winter will typically see good numbers, particularly of commons, flocking to smaller inside rivers stored open, courtesy of present.

Although goldeneyes will certainly eat vegetation, their most well-liked weight loss program consists of aquatic invertebrates, crustaceans, shellfish, and bug larvae, all of which they will discover by diving in roughly 20 toes of water. Compared, the long-tailed duck, one other member of the ocean duck household, has been recognized to dive 200 toes deep in quest of meals. 

Not like mallard hens that construct conventional bowl-shaped nests among the many reeds and different cowl, goldeneyes, like wooden geese and hooded mergansers, are cavity nesters. The hens of each subspecies lay a median clutch of 8-10 eggs. Incubation is then 30 days, after which the hen guards the little ones fiercely towards predators resembling mink, weasels, hawks, crows, and even northern pike and muskellunge. 

Goldeneye Duck Looking Strategies

With however few exceptions, goldeneyes are harvested by the way or as “a bonus duck” over a puddle duck unfold or a diver hunt. It’s necessary to notice for many who want to particularly goal goldeneyes that the birds are fairly species-specific on the subject of decoys. It’s finest to set out a least a handful of goldeneye decoys—ideally drakes, as their black-and-white distinction supplies wonderful long-distance visibility. 

What number of goldeneye decoys? If I’m setting a diver unfold, I’ll all the time throw three or 4 drake goldeneyes by themselves and off to 1 aspect, simply in case a standard or Barrow’s ought to wander by. As for a selection of non-toxic shotshells, goldeneyes, although not exceptionally massive geese, are rugged, well-feathered, and tenacious of life. Subsequently, metal No. 2 shot or HEVI-Bismuth No. 4 shot are each nice decisions.

Goldeneye Duck On the Desk

Opinions are blended on the subject of the goldeneye’s rating as desk fare, primarily based nearly totally on the species’ weight loss program of non-vegetative supplies. Me? I’ve loved an Asian fashion goldeneye stir fry which was completely great, in addition to mallards that have been presumably eating on shellfish that my cats wouldn’t contact. Right here, edibility lies within the eye—or slightly, the style buds—of these doing the consuming.  

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