Our Bonanza hits the water today with our 477th species, the Common Goldeneye.
Common Goldeneyes are sea ducks with a broad global range. They breed across northern forests in Canada, Scandinavia, Russia, and China. They winter across much of North America and in parts of Europe and Asia south of their breeding range.
Common Goldeneye by Stefan Berndtsson (CC BY 2.0)
Common Goldeneyes nest in tree cavities. They will also use nest boxes. When it is time to fledge, the ducklings leave the cavity nest and fall to the ground. Sometimes duckling goldeneyes may be raised by unrelated adults. This can happen one of two ways. First, female goldeneyes may lay eggs in the nests of other goldeneyes. Another familial mix-up can occur when females with ducklings get into territory fights with other families. As the adult female ducks fight, the ducklings can get mixed up. Once the fight is over and each family swims away, ducklings may end up with a different brood.
Tomorrow we'll add a colorful species, named for the flower-like color of the male's head, found in India and Southeast Asia.
Happy Independence Day to our American readers! Our 2013 Bonanza rolls on -- we're adding new birds each day in July until we reach our 500th Birdorable species! Today's Bonanza bird is the American Wigeon.
Male American Wigeons have beautiful breeding plumage, which includes a shiny thick green eyestripe at the cheeks and a white stripe running from the top of the bill up to the crown of the head. This stripe gives the bird a "bald" appearance. The species was previously known as the Baldpate (pate means head).
American Wigeon by Tony Hisgett (CC BY 2.0)
American Wigeons are dabbling ducks, which means that they feed by grazing vegetation at the bottom of shallow waters. They are almost 100% vegetarian.
Our next new Birdorable species is an over-sized kingfisher! Come back tomorrow to find out what it is!
With their special water-resistant plumage, ducks are made for water. But did you know that several species of duck actually require trees when it comes to breeding? Some ducks are cavity nesters. We've recently added one of these cute little cavity-nesting ducks to Birdorable. The Bufflehead is one of the smallest species of duck to live in North America. They're just about 14 inches long, and they use cavities excavated by Northern Flicker woodpeckers! They also use nestboxes, as in the photo below.
Besides the Bufflehead, some other ducks that nest in cavities or nest boxes are: Hooded Merganser; Black-bellied Whistling Duck; Wood Duck; Common Goldeneye; and Common Merganser.
1. Northern Shovelers use their uniquely-shaped bills to strain the water for crustaceans when feeding.
2. Northern Shovelers are fairly widespread, with populations living and breeding across parts of the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia.
3. There are three other species of shoveler in the world, all closely related to the Northern Shoveler: Cape Shoveler; Australasian Shoveler; and Red Shoveler.
4. Northern Shovelers have been known to hybridize with several other duck species, including Blue-winged Teal, Mallard, Gadwall, Northern Pintail, and Wood Duck.
5. The wings of Northern Shovelers make a rattling noise when the birds take off.
6. Northern Shovelers are somewhat territorial - at least more so that other dabbling ducks. Males will defend territory more fiercely during nesting season.
7. The Northern Shoveler is one of our cute Birdorable birds! The Northern Shoveler was added to Birdorable on December 7th, 2010.