Hunting for Gogol

Goldeneye (lat. Bucephala clangula) is a bird of the family of duck, sea duck of medium size with a large rounded head, short bill and contrasting black and white plumage. Widespread in the forest zone of the Northern hemisphere in Eurasia and in America.

Nests in hollows of trees along the banks of forest ponds in the breeding season rests in the shady coves. Winters on sea coasts and large freshwater bodies – rivers, lakes and reservoirs. Everywhere few in number, but in some places common bird.

Unlike many other ducks during the breeding period it forms large flocks are very rare (with the exception of concentrations in moult), but is sometimes found in small scattered groups. Nests in hollows along the banks of forest lakes, laying 5-13 eggs with a greenish tint. Feeds mostly on aquatic invertebrates.


Chunky duck with a large head and rather short neck. Length 42-50 cm wingspan 65-80 cm, weight of males 750-1245 g, weight females 500-882 g. the Crown is slightly convex and pointed, of which the shape of the head acquires shape of a triangle. The beak is short and high at the base, with a narrow claw. The male in breeding plumage the head is black with a green metallic sheen under the eye at the base of the beak is a round white spot. The eyes are yellow, bill is black. Breast, belly and flanks are bright white on the shoulders diagonal a black and white braid. A large part of the back and tail are black. Wings blackish-brown, except a large white “mirrors” on secondaries; underwing dark. The legs are orange with dark membranes, including the membrane on the back of the finger.

The female looks less contrast, with a predominance of brownish-gray colors. Head dark brown with a narrow white collar. Eyes are pale yellow or white, beak dark grey, usually with orange or yellow band at the top. The upper part of the body is smoky-grey, the lower white. The top of the wing, dark slate, with the same white mirror as males. In addition, the surface mirror-coverts there are also two white stripes. Feet more faded compared to males are more yellow than orange. In summer plumage, the male becomes more similar to the female but retains its wing pattern with one, not three, bright spot. Young birds are almost indistinguishable from adult females, but have a brownish iris.

Often distinguished 2 subspecies, differing from each other in the total size and length of the beak: the Eurasian B. c. clangula and larger American B. c. americana. Other authors acknowledge the kind monotypical, as part of the territory of the two subspecies intermingle, and changing the length of the beak is called the so-called “wedge” (in biology, the gradual change of the gradient of any sign under the influence of physical-geographical factors).


During the mating demonstrations, the male emits a piercing screech of “bi-byists, surprisess”, usually accompanied by low dry rattling sound like the squeak of a rabbit. The female responds with a raspy “berrr-berrr”, often on the fly – like sound Aythya. In addition to the voice, Gogol on hearing to define high ringing whistle of flapping wings of the male in flight. Whistling clapping is typical of many ducks, but only in Gogol’s the sound of a ringing and clear.

Breeding range

The birthplace of Gogol is considered North America, where the bird moved first to Asia and then spread across the Northern hemisphere. Breeding range covers the area of coniferous forests. In the Americas it breeds from Alaska to Newfoundland South to about the canadian-American border. In Eurasia spread to the East of Switzerland, States of the former Yugoslavia and Scandinavia, reaching to the East of Sakhalin island and Iturup. In the Baltic States, Poland, Germany, Czech Republic and the UK is found sporadically (e.g. in the British Isles only in the area of Caledonian forest).

To the East in the Northern forests is more common, including in the Siberian taiga. In the European part of Russia it breeds in South to Yaroslavl, Nizhny Novgorod, Ryazan regions, in Kazakhstan, in South to the mouth of the Ilek river, to the East in the North to 53° N. lat., more to the East to the South along the valley of the Irtysh to lake Zaysan where the range border passes in area of Chernyy Irtysh valley, the mountain range Tannu-Ola valleys of the rivers Dzhida, and Chikoi. The boundary of the nesting sites included in the North-East China, and then again falls within Russia in the area of the river Great Ussurka.


In most parts of the habitat migratory bird resident population was observed only in the North-West of Europe. In other cases, wintering to the South and West of breeding range in the littoral zone of the sea, large lakes, rivers and reservoirs. The population of the Northern regions are moved mostly by sea. Most birds in Northern Europe spends winters in the Baltic sea, the North sea off the coast of Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK, along the coast of Ireland.

From more southern areas and also from the European part of Russia, birds flying in the Eastern part of the Adriatic, to the shores of Greece and the Black sea, from Western Siberia to the Caspian sea. In addition, part of birds is a large inland bodies of water in Western and Central Europe. In the far East, the wintering areas are located on ice-free areas of the sea from Kamchatka to China, Taiwan and the Japanese Islands. In North America, birds winter along the West and East coasts, the Gulf of Mexico and the valley of the Mississippi river North to the Great lakes region.


Able to dive to 10 m, but is not usually found in water bodies deeper than 4 m. Breeding habitat is large enough forest lake, quiet taiga river with woody vegetation along the banks, where the bird is usually concentrated in small bays with large spaces of open water. Winter kept the sea, generally in shallow bays, lagoons, close to the rocky shore and outputs of waste water, in estuaries of large rivers, on the South of the area on large inland bodies of water with non-freezing water.


Sexual maturity is reached at age two. Pairs are formed in areas of the winter migration, but often because males and females wintering at different latitudes, many individuals are left alone before the start of the spring migration. Nesting Gogol arrive in pairs or small groups, very early, when most of the ponds still covered with ice and only appear on the first thawed patches on most of the range in March. While water might not be revealed, Gogol kept on puddles nadlezni water or polynyas. On arrival drakes and behave so defiantly; the most characteristic posture in the water as follows: the male stretches out his neck, then abruptly throws her head back on his back and lifts his beak to the sky, this dramatically pushes up with his feet, raising a fountain of spray.

Breeds in pairs, starting in April or may.The nest is often built in tree hollows at a height of 15 m above the ground, usually near water. Uses natural cavities in the trunks of aspen, spruce, oak, pine, and less often birch, willingly occupies old nests of Jenny and artificial bird houses hanging on trees and poles. Prefers freestanding trees with open space around, rather than dense forest. In rare cases, settles on earth, where it occupies the burrows of rabbits, hollow stumps or hiding the nest among tree roots or piles of logs.

If conditions permit and there is no disturbance by humans, nesting in the settlements near the house or along the roads. Often the same nest is used decades, including for several years in a row by the same female. The area around the nest is not guarded, but each pair has its own discrete area of the water area. Litter – wood dust, in which the female extrudes a shallow pan, and Pooh, which the duck plucks from her breast and adds to the nest after laying the first eggs.

The clutch 5-13 brownish-green or greenish-blue eggs, but often their number varies from 8 to 11 I. Sometimes in the same nest lay two ducks, and in this case, the clutch can be increased to 20 or more eggs. In this situation the nest is often left unattended and both of the offspring die. The eggs are fairly large: their dimensions (52-67) x (39-46). Incubation begins with laying of last egg and continues for 29-30 days, sits one female. The first time she from time to time leaving the nest and for a long time goes in search of food, covering the eggs with down, but in the last 10 days incubates very tightly.

Drake first 7-9 days is near the nest, and then left him forever and flies to places of seasonal shedding. Hatched Chicks are covered with blackish, below white down. During the day they dries in a nest together, and then jump to the ground, wings spread like a parachute, and follow the mother to the water. The ducks are good dive, find forage and often go without supervision, although the power of flight manifested only in the age 57-66 days. Rising on the wing Chicks (in the North-West of Russia it usually occurs in the first decade of August) gradually migrate to larger bodies of water, and in September-October held a mass migration to their wintering grounds.


It feeds on aquatic invertebrates, which produces predominantly at the bottom or on aquatic plants, rarely in the water column. On the water most of the time dives, reaching depths of up to 4 meters or more, and holding under water for more than half a minute. In summer the basis of its diet are insects and their larvae – caddisflies, moths, water bugs, dragonflies, bedbugs, gnats, etc. in the Winter more eats mollusks and crustaceans. Also eats earthworms, amphibians and small fish, in the fall of small quantities of seeds, roots and vegetative parts of aquatic plants.

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