Most duck species court and form pair bonds in winter. In the icy waters of Vermont’s Lake Champlain, Common Goldeneyes are getting hot! This male is displaying his signature move, the “head-throw-kick,” to attract a mate. Goldeneye pairs now bonding throughout the US will migrate in early spring toward breeding waters across Canada and Alaska. But the males are ramblers. After the female lays her eggs, the goldeneye male abandons his mate and parental duties. It’s common conduct among ducks!
Winter Romance – Common Goldeneyes
Written by Bryan Pfeiffer
This is BirdNote!
[Common Goldeneye – female and male taking off from water – wing sounds]
In the icy waters of Vermont’s Lake Champlain, Common Goldeneyes are getting hot. Months before the woods here glow with migrating songbirds, these perky ducks are already engaged in courtship. [Introduce male Common Goldeneye calling]
One of the male’s signature moves is the “head-throw-kick.” On the water, he thrusts his iridescent green-black head forward for a moment, then whips it back so that his nape touches his rump and his bill points skyward. Finally, he slings his head forward and makes a high buzzy call while splashing water outward with his feet. [“Head-throw-kick” sound including splashing]
This is a genuine turn-on for female goldeneyes. [Male Common Goldeneye calls]
Most duck species court and form pair bonds in winter. Goldeneye pairs now bonding across the US will migrate together in early spring toward breeding waters across Canada and Alaska.
But he’s a rambler. After she lays their eggs, the goldeneye male abandons his mate and parental duties. It’s common conduct among ducks.
[Some species, however, maintain a long-distance relationship. They meet up again only in frigid winter waters like these in Lake Champlain. And, yes, sometimes the female takes him back.] [Wing sounds of Common Goldeneyes]
Winter romance can be, well, cold and calculating.
Today’s show provided by Vermont writer and field naturalist Bryan Pfeiffer. Check out his blog when you begin at birdnote.org. I’m Michael Stein.
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Wing sounds of Common Goldeneye  recorded by W.W. H. Gunn.
Calls of Common Goldeneyes engaged in courtship xeno-canto  recorded by P. Aberg.
Sounds of water Nature SFX Essentials # 18 recorded by G. Hempton of QuietPlanet.com
BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2016 Tune In to Nature.org February 2014/2018/2019 Narrator: Michael Stein
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