©Fergus Gill/2020VISION


Scientific name: Bucephala clangula
A medium-sized diving duck, the goldeneye can mainly be spotted in winter when birds fly in from Northern Europe. Conservation efforts have helped small numbers of these birds to nest in Scotland.

Species information


Length: 40-48cm
Wingspan: 72cm
Weight: 750-1kg
Average lifespan: 6 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Amber under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015). Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

When to see

January to December


The male goldeneye is a handsome diving duck. Apart from a small breeding population in the highlands of Scotland, most goldeneye only spend the winter in the UK, particularly on larger lakes and reservoirs. Goldeneye do not really gather in large numbers like other duck species.

How to identify

The male goldeneye is a black-and-white duck, with a large, domed head that is black with a green sheen to it. It has a distinctive yellow eye and a white spot in between the eye and bill. Females are grey with a brown head and a yellow eye.


A rare nesting bird in the highlands of Scotland, and an uncommon winter visitor to lakes and reservoirs throughout the country.

Did you know?

The scientific name of the goldeneye, Bucephala, means 'bull-headed' and refers to its strange head shape. This duck makes a loud, double whistle sound as part of its courtship display that can be heard up to a kilometre away.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.