Whistler

We delight in the beauty of nature. Millions of nature and wildlife photos are evidence of this fact. A favorite subject of mine  is the Goldeneye duck. Yesterday, it was satisfying to actually take some good photos of this bird. My skill does not equal a professional wildlife photographer’s, but the photos will help you see why this duck is a lifetime favorite.

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This duck is a favorite because of its beauty, its amazing life biology, and how it delights the human ear when flying.

The Latin scientific words used for this bird are Bucephala clangula. The Greek origin for the Latin bucephala means bull head. Goldeneyes and the related species Bufflehead have large heads.  Clangula has a Greek origin. It means long tailed. The Goldeneye is a large headed, long tailed duck.

These physical characteristics combined with the coloration of its feathers result in genuine beauty. Iridescent green and black heads, are breath taking in bright light. The white cheek patches, necks, sides and bellies contrast brilliantly with blue water and the black of the wings, head and tail. The namesake eye is an amber gold. A close look of the bird while swimming also reveals details on their wing. Parallel strips of black and white add an immensely beautiful pattern that holds the eye. This bird is a first-class illustration of what beauty is.

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How this duck fits in the world outside our doors is as remarkable as it looks. It is fueled by aquatic invertebrates and fish. This behavior earns it the secondary name of “diver”. Diving ducks find their food on dives under the surface. Goldeneyes will dive to twenty feet in search of nourishment to fill its stomach. Crustaceans, freshwater shrimp, saltwater shrimp, even barnacles along with common fresh water invertebrates like dragon and damsel fly larva all find their way into the stomachs of Goldeneyes. The salt water food sources reveal where some spend the winter. Some Goldeneyes are found in the Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic during winter months. Where there is open water they are found as far north as Minnesota. While they are aggressive ducks when in company of other duck species, a flock of Goldeneyes will often synchronize their feeding by diving together to maximize the success of their food hunt.DSC_0107sig

An illustration of how all of nature is linked together, the Goldeneye female benefits from the Northwood’s’ largest woodpecker. The previous nests of Pileated woodpeckers are perfect sites for a Goldeneye female to start a nest. Young Goldeneyes can dive from 40 feet above the ground as they leave the nest.

 

The eyes are a principal part of the description of this bird. At birth the eyes are gray/brown. In a color change that progresses with age they are purple-blue, blue, then green blue. A significant change occurs at 5 months, they are green/yellow. Adult males have the hallmark golden eye while female eyes are pale yellow to white.

This first-class duck has a nickname. Called “whistler” by duck hunters, it is an apt term. When Goldeneyes fly their wings whistle. No other bird is as sound distinctive as the Goldeneye in flight. It is possible to identify them before seeing them just by sound. You must hear it. The sound of air through the wings of a Goldeneye is to bird buffs one of the most beautiful in nature. Hearing them and seeing them fly simultaneously is a wonderful part of making a day of life outstanding.DSC_0145sig

These few words on the Goldeneye are just the sketchy beginning of the life of a bird hard working biologists actually know little about. There are thousands of unanswered questions about how this bird lives.

The Goldeneye does something else remarkable, it serves as a first-class example of the Source of its origin. As evidence of this review mentally the changes in eye color, the color patterns of its feathers. We did not discuss at all the highly unusual behaviors it displays at mating time. Consider too how it knows to work with others to eat. Why does this bird more than all others “whistle” as it flies? There is such pleasing mystery in this bird. Yes, is it a outstanding witness to the Source of its origin.DSC_0105sig

The words of Job explain best.  But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? Job 12:7-9

The Goldeneye does not speak English, instead it shouts of God’s creative infinite genius.

Author: davidwellis

Being a grandfather, husband, former public school teacher and Education Specialist for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service provide me with many life perspectives. Being a naturalist with a camera puts me outside. Trusting God and seeking His direction guides my words, and photos. We live in a magnificent world, come and look at it with me through my eyes, lens and words. To God be the glory. Enjoy the Cedar Waxwings being used for the current profile photo!