Bucephala clangula 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Anseriformes Anatidae

Scientific Name: Bucephala clangula (Linnaeus, 1758)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Common Goldeneye, Goldeneye
Taxonomic Source(s): Cramp, S. and Simmons, K.E.L. (eds). 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Pihl, S.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ashpole, J, Butchart, S., Calvert, R., Ekstrom, J., Malpas, L.
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species ranges across the boreal forests of Scandinavia, eastern Europe, Russia, Mongolia, northern China, Canada, Alaska and northern USA. Its wintering range is equally broad, encompassing the coast of northern Europe including inland United Kingdom, scattered coastal and inland water bodies in south-eastern Europe (e.g. Turkey) and central Asia, the coasts of eastern China, Korea, Japan and the Kamchatkha Peninsula (Russia), the Pacific coast of Canada and the Alaskan coast and inland USA (del Hoyo et al. 1992).
Countries occurrence:
Afghanistan; Albania; Austria; Azerbaijan; Belarus; Belgium; Bermuda; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Canada; China; Croatia; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Faroe Islands; Finland; France; Georgia; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Iceland; India; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Ireland; Italy; Japan; Kazakhstan; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Kyrgyzstan; Latvia; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Mexico; Moldova; Mongolia; Montenegro; Myanmar; Nepal; Netherlands; Norway; Pakistan; Poland; Romania; Russian Federation (Central Asian Russia, Eastern Asian Russia, European Russia); Saint Pierre and Miquelon; Serbia; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Taiwan, Province of China; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; United Kingdom; United States; Uzbekistan
Algeria; Bahamas; Bangladesh; Cyprus; Gibraltar; Greenland; Israel; Jordan; Lebanon; Malta; Morocco; Palestinian Territory, Occupied; Portugal; Syrian Arab Republic; Tajikistan
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:46900000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):2000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The global population is estimated to number c.2,700,000-4,700,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2015), national population estimates include c.100,000-1 million breeding pairs and c.10,000 wintering individuals in Russia (Brazil 2009). The European population is estimated at 489,000-623,000 pairs, which equates to 977,000-1,250,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015).

Trend Justification:  The overall population trend is stable, although some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2015). This species has undergone a small or statistically insignificant increase over the last 40 years in North America (data from Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count: Butcher and Niven 2007). In Europe the population size is estimated to be stable (BirdLife International 2015).
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Behaviour Most of this species is fully migratory although it may only travel short distances (Kear 2005b), and certain populations in the north-west of Europe may also be sedentary (del Hoyo et al. 1992). The species breeds from April in solitary pairs (del Hoyo et al. 1992), after which it undertakes short northerly moult migrations to coastal areas, large lakes and rivers (Kear 2005b) to undergo a period of flightless moult lasting 3-4 weeks (males leave for this moult migration first while females are still incubating) (Scott and Rose 1996). Large moult gatherings are common during this period, males arriving at such gatherings in early-June and numbers peaking in late-August when adult females arrive (Scott and Rose 1996). The southward autumn migration begins in late-August with most arriving in the winter quarters by early-December (Scott and Rose 1996). Females tend to migrate further than males (Madge and Burn 1988, Scott and Rose 1996) and juveniles migrate further than adults (Scott and Rose 1996). The return migration to the breeding areas occurs as early as mid-February (Scott and Rose 1996), the species timing its arrival to coincide with the thawing and appearance of open water (Kear 2005b). Non-breeders may also oversummer on wintering grounds (Madge and Burn 1988). The species is gregarious outside of the breeding season (Snow and Perrins 1998, Kear 2005b) usually being observed in small scattered groups (Scott and Rose 1996) or in small flocks on migration (Kear 2005b). Several hundred individuals may roost together (Snow and Perrins 1998) and large flocks often gather to feed at sewage outfalls (del Hoyo et al. 1992) during the winter, although the species rarely occurs in very large flocks (Scott and Rose 1996). Habitat The species is restricted to water close to the shore and less than 10 m deep (Scott and Rose 1996) (showing a preference for waters 4 m deep) (Snow and Perrins 1998). Breeding When breeding the species shows a preference for oligotrophic lakes devoid of fish (Kear 2005b) but with abundant invertebrate life (Johnsgard 1978), and requires tree-holes (or artificial nestboxes) for nesting (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Suitable habitats include freshwater lakes, pools, rivers (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and deep marshes (Johnsgard 1978) surrounded by coniferous forest (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Non-breeding The species winters mainly at sea (Scott and Rose 1996) on inshore waters (del Hoyo et al. 1992), shallow bays (Kear 2005b), estuaries (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and coastal lagoons (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Scott and Rose 1996), especially in the vicinity of sewage outfalls (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Further to the south and on migration the species may also frequent large rivers, lakes (Scott and Rose 1996, Kear 2005b) and reservoirs (Scott and Rose 1996). Diet The diet of the species consists predominantly of aquatic invertebrates such as molluscs, worms, crustaceans, aquatic insects and insect larvae (del Hoyo et al. 1992) (e.g. dragonflies, damsel flies and may flies) (Johnsgard 1978), as well as amphibians, small fish (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and some plant material (mainly in the autumn) such as seeds, roots and the vegetative parts of aquatic plants (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Breeding site The species nests in hollows of mature trees (del Hoyo et al. 1992) (e.g. aspen, spruce or oak) (Flint et al. 1984) formed by woodpeckers or by bacterial or fungal heart-rot invasions (Kear 2005b) that have internal cavity diameters of c.20 cm (although the height of the hollow does not seem to be important) (Johnsgard 1978). The species will preferentially nest in trees in open stands near water (Johnsgard 1978, Madge and Burn 1988) or solitary trees on the edges of marshes (Johnsgard 1978), rather than in trees in dense stands (to increase the ease of entry by flying) (Johnsgard 1978). The species will also nest in artificial nestboxes (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Management information In Scotland, UK the introduction of a sewage treatment scheme in the Firth of Forth (a large marine bay) resulted in a considerable reduction in the abundance of the species, with feeding flocks only remaining at outfalls where sewage continued to be discharged in large quantities (Campbell 1984). It was unclear whether the changes in the species's distribution were due to reductions in the number of food items borne in the sewage or to reductions in aquatic invertebrate abundance as a result of the new treatment system (Campbell 1984). In some areas nestbox erection programmes have been shown to cause significant range expansions and population increases (Dennis 1987, del Hoyo et al. 1992), although an experiment in southern Finland found that even though nestbox provision increased breeding numbers of the species there was a negative density-dependent effect on reproductive output (i.e. the number of fledged young did not increase despite an increase in breeding pairs) (Poysa and Poysa 2002). Nesting habitats in general may also benefit from a more extended rotation of timber harvesting (Kear 2005b).
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):8
Movement patterns:Full Migrant
Congregatory:Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species is threatened by wetland degradation and loss in North America and is susceptible to atmospheric acid deposition (e.g. acid rain) throughout a large part of its breeding range (Kear 2005b). The main threat to the species in its wintering range is pollution (e.g. from coastal oil spills or other pollutants from sewage outfalls) (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Utilisation The species is hunted sustainably in Denmark (Bregnballe et al. 2006) although the influence of hunting on global populations is unknown (Kear 2005b), although an estimated 100,000–250,000 were once shot annually in north-west and central Europe. Lead shot ingestion however, does not appear to be a significant risk, at least compared to some other species of seaducks (Carboneras et al. 2014). Modern forestry management work is limiting as it does not favour the retention of old and decaying trees with likely nest holes (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II. EU Birds Directive Annex II. The following information refers to the species's European range only: In some areas nestbox erection programmes have been shown to cause significant range expansions and population increases (Dennis 1987, Carboneras et al. 2014), although an experiment in southern Finland found that even though nestbox provision increased breeding numbers of the species there was a negative density-dependent effect on reproductive output (i.e. the number of fledged young did not increase despite an increase in breeding pairs) (Poysa and Poysa 2002). 

Conservation Actions Proposed
The following information refers to the species's European range only: In general nesting habitats may benefit from a more extended rotation of timber harvesting (Kear 2005) and the species may benefit from the introduction of strict legislation on oil transportation. Monitoring and research should be introduced to determine the impact of hunting on this species.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.1. Forest - Boreal
suitability:Suitable season:breeding major importance:Yes
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.1. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls)
suitability:Suitable season:breeding major importance:No
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.1. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls)
suitability:Suitable season:non-breeding major importance:No
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.4. Wetlands (inland) - Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands
suitability:Suitable season:breeding major importance:No
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.5. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha)
suitability:Suitable season:breeding major importance:No
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.5. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha)
suitability:Suitable season:non-breeding major importance:No
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.2. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs
suitability:Suitable season:non-breeding major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.3. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel
suitability:Suitable season:non-breeding major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.4. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy
suitability:Suitable season:non-breeding major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.5. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy-Mud
suitability:Suitable season:non-breeding major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.7. Marine Neritic - Macroalgal/Kelp
suitability:Suitable season:non-breeding major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.9. Marine Neritic - Seagrass (Submerged)
suitability:Suitable season:non-breeding major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.10. Marine Neritic - Estuaries
suitability:Suitable season:non-breeding major importance:Yes

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:Yes
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Invasive species control or prevention:No
In-Place Species Management
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:No
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:No
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:No

Bibliography [top]

BirdLife International. 2015. European Red List of Birds. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg.

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

Bregnballe, T.; Noer, H.; Christensen, T.K.; Clausen, P.; Asferg, T.; Fox, A.D.; Delany, S. 2006. Sustainable hunting of migratory waterbirds: the Danish approach. In: G. Boere, C. Galbraith and D. Stroud (eds), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 854-860. The Stationery Office, Edinburgh, U.K.

Campbell, L. H. 1984. The impact of changes in sewage treatment on seaducks wintering in the Firth of Forth, Scotland. Biological Conservation 28: 173-180.

Carboneras, C., Christie, D.A. and Kirwan, G.M. 2014. Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. and de Juana, E. (eds), Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive, Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Delany, S. and Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

del Hoyo, J., Elliot, A. and Sargatal, J. 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 1: Ostrich to Ducks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Dennis, R. H. 1987. Boxes for goldeneyes: a success story. RSPB Conservation Review: 85-87.

Flint, V.E.; Boehme, R.L.; Kostin, Y.V.; Kuznetsov, A.A. 1984. A field guide to birds of the USSR. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

Hagemeijer, E.J.M. and Blair, M.J. 1997. The EBCC atlas of European breeding birds: their distribution and abundance. T. and A. D. Poyser, London.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-3. Available at: (Accessed: 07 December 2016).

Johnsgard, P.A. 1978. Ducks, geese and swans of the World. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London.

Kear, J. 2005. Ducks, geese and swans volume 2: species accounts (Cairina to Mergus). Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K.

Madge, S.; Burn, H. 1988. Wildfowl. Christopher Helm, London.

Poysa, H.; Poysa, S. 2002. Nest-site limitation and density dependence of reproductive output in the common goldeneye Bucephala clangula: implications for the management of cavity-nesting birds. Journal of Applied Ecology 39: 502-510.

Scott, D. A.; Rose, P. M. 1996. Atlas of Anatidae populations in Africa and western Eurasia. Wetlands International, Wageningen, Netherlands.

Snow, D.W. and Perrins, C.M. 1998. The Birds of the Western Palearctic, Volume 1: Non-Passerines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Vähätalo, A. V.; Rainio, K.; Lehikoinen, A.; Lehikoinen, E. 2004. Spring arrival of birds depends on the North Atlantic Oscillation. Journal of Avian Biology 35: 210-216.

Wetlands International. 2015. Waterbird Population Estimates. Available at: (Accessed: 17/09/2015).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Bucephala clangula. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22680455A85989591. . Downloaded on 20 August 2018.
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