Birds Of The World:
The Golden-eyed Ducks
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( Originally Published Early 1900's )
(Clangula), so named on account of the bright yellow iris, are handsome birds, the male with the upper parts pied black and white, and the lower parts entirely white, while the head and upper neck is black glossed with green, blue, or violet and set off by a white spot between the bill and eye. Of the three or four forms the true Golden-eye (C. clangula) is found in Arctic Europe and Asia, migrating south in winter to northern India and China. Not much is known of its habits beyond the fact that its nest is placed in a hollow tree and the eggs are bright green in color. Hardly distinguishable from this except by its larger size is the American Golden-eye (C. clangula Americana), which is found throughout North America generally, nesting from Maine and North Dakota northward, and coming far south in winter. Although this species may occasionally nest on the ground, as reported by Dail, who found it nesting in marshes along the Yukon, it usually selects a hollow stump or tree in which to deposit the eggs. It is not particular as to the kind of tree or the nature of the cavity so long as it is large enough to accommodate the bird. Thus Bent found several nests in North Dakota variously placed in swamp oak, elm, and cotton-wood trees, at a distance of from eight to twenty feet from the ground. One, in a dead branch of a small elm, was only three inches wide and four and one half inches high at the entrance, and about three feet deep. The eggs, some eight to fourteen in number, are placed on chips and dead wood at the bottom of the cavity or sometimes in a thick, matted mass of down. In color the eggs are a clear, pale, malachite green. Barrow's Golden-eye (C. islandica), which may be distinguished from the last by the purplish blue on the head and throat and by the much larger and differently shaped white patch at the base of the bill, is more northern in distribution, being found in summer from the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Rocky Mountains of Colorado northward, reaching Greenland and Iceland; its habits are similar to those of its near relative.