Goldeneye (duck)

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Bucephala clangula.jpg
Common goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Subfamily: Merginae
Genus: Bucephala
S.F. Baird, 1858

Bucephala albeola
Bucephala clangula
Bucephala islandica


and see text

Goldeneye or whistler (Bucephala clangula) is a species of small tree-hole nesting northern hemisphere seaducks belonging to the genus Bucephala. The plumage is black and white. Goldeneyes eat fish, crustaceans, and other marine life. The "whistler" name comes from the noise their beating wings make in flight.[1]

The bufflehead was formerly separated in its own genus Charitonetta, while the goldeneyes proper were mistakenly placed in Clangula (as Clangula americana), the genus of the long-tailed duck, which at that time was placed in Harelda.[2]

The three living species are:

  • Common goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) – they have black bills. Males have a dark green head with a white spot near the bill, under their eye. Females have brown heads.[1]
  • Barrow's goldeneye (Bucephala islandica)
  • Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)

Known fossil taxa are:

  • Bucephala cereti (Sajóvölgyi Middle Miocene of Mátraszõlõs, Hungary - Late Pliocene of Chilhac, France)
  • Bucephala ossivalis (Late Miocene/Early Pliocene of Bone Valley, USA), which was very similar to the Common Goldeneye and may even have been a paleosubspecies or direct ancestor
  • Bucephala fossilis (Late Pliocene of California, USA)
  • Bucephala angustipes (Early Pleistocene of central Europe)
  • Bucephala sp. (Early Pleistocene of Dursunlu, Turkey: Louchart et al. 1998)


  • Louchart, Antoine; Mourer-Chauviré, Cécile; Guleç, Erksin; Howell, Francis Clark & White, Tim D. (1998). L'avifaune de Dursunlu, Turquie, Pléistocène inférieur: climat, environnement et biogéographie. C. R. Acad. Sci. Paris IIA 327(5):341-346. [French with English abridged version] doi:10.1016/S1251-8050(98)80053-0 (HTML abstract)

Media related to Bucephala at Wikimedia Commons

  1. ^ a b Peterson, Roger Tory (1998). A Field Guide to the Birds of Texas: And Adjacent States. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  2. ^ Report of the National conference on utilization of forest products. New national museum, Washington, DC, November 19 and 20, 1924. Issue 13. US Govt. print. off. 1925.

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