• Skip to Content
  • Skip to Main Navigation
  • Skip to Local Navigation
  • Skip to Search
  • Skip to Sitemap
  • Skip to Footer

Common Goldeneye


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The black-and-white Common Goldeneye is one of the last ducks to migrate south in fall. It often will winter as far north as open water permits.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
15.7–20.1 in
40–51 cm
30.3–32.7 in
77–83 cm
21.2–45.9 oz
600–1300 g
Other Names
  • Garrot commun, Garrot à oeil d'or (French)
  • Porrón osculado (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • A female Common Goldeneye often lays eggs in the nest of another female, especially in nest boxes. She may lay in the nests of other species of ducks as well. Common and Barrow's goldeneyes lay in each other's nests, and Wood Ducks and Hooded Mergansers often lay in the goldeneye's nest too.
  • After the ducklings leave the nest they can feed themselves and require only protection. Some females abandon their broods soon after hatching, and the young will join another female's brood. Such mixed broods, known as "creches," may also occur when a female loses some ducklings after a territorial fight with another female. Young scatter and mix when females fight, and not all of them get back to their mother when the fight ends. Some or all of the ducklings may be transferred to one brood, usually that of the territory owner.
  • The eyes of a Common Goldeneye are gray-brown at hatching. They turn purple-blue, then blue, then green-blue as they age. By five months of age they have become clear pale green-yellow. The eyes will be bright yellow in adult males and pale yellow to white in females.



  • Breeds along lakes and rivers bordered by forest.
  • Winters primarily in marine waters, bays and harbors, as well as in large inland lakes and rivers.



Aquatic invertebrates, and occasionally small fish and vegetation.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
5–16 eggs
Egg Description
Glossy greenish.
Condition at Hatching
Covered with down, eyes open. Leave nest within two days after hatching.
Nest Description

Nest in tree cavity or nest box, lined with downy feathers from chest of female.

Nest Placement



Surface Dive

Dives underwater to capture prey on bottom. Flocks often dive together.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

Populations appear stable.


  • Eadie, J. M., M. L. Mallory, and H. G. Lumsden. 1995. Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula). In The Birds of North America, No. 170 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Range Map Help

Common Goldeneye Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Backyard Tips

Consider putting up a nest box to attract a breeding pair. Make sure you put it up well before breeding season. Attach a guard to keep predators from raiding eggs and young. Find out more about nest boxes on our Attract Birds pages. You'll find plans for building a nest box of the appropriate size on our All About Birdhouses site.

You Might Also Like

What to Watch For: Duck Courtship [video], All About Birds blog, January 20, 2015.



Or Browse Bird Guide by Family, Name or Shape
bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

The Cornell Lab will send you updates about birds, birding, and opportunities to help bird conservation. You can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell or give your email address to others.