Goldeneye (duck)

Bucephala is a genus of diving ducks found in the Northern Hemisphere. The genus name is derived from Ancient Greek boukephalos, "bullheaded", from bous "bull", and kephale, "head", a reference to the crest of the bufflehead making its head look large.[1]

Bucephala clangula.jpg
Common goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Subfamily: Merginae
Genus: Bucephala
S.F. Baird, 1858

Bucephala albeola
Bucephala clangula
Bucephala islandica


see text

The bufflehead was formerly treated as the only member of the genus (sometimes unnecessarily changed to Charitonetta) while the goldeneyes were incorrectly placed in Clangula (as Clangula americana), the genus of the long-tailed duck, which at that time was placed in Harelda.[2] It may yet be correct to recognise two genera, as the bufflehead and the two goldeneyes are well diverged. In this case, Bucephala would be restricted to B. albeola and the name Glaucionetta (Stejneger, 1885) resurrected for the goldeneyes.


The three living species are:

Image Scientific name Common name Distribution
  Bucephala clangula Common goldeneye Widespread in North America and Eurasia
  Bucephala islandica Barrow's goldeneye North America and Iceland
  Bucephala albeola Bufflehead North America south to Mexico

Known fossil taxa are:

  • Bucephala cereti (Sajóvölgyi Middle Miocene of Mátraszõlõs, Hungary - Late Pliocene of Chilhac, France)
  • Bucephala ossivalis (Late Miocene/Early Pliocene of Bone Valley, United States), which was very similar to the common goldeneye and may even have been a paleosubspecies or direct ancestor
  • Bucephala fossilis (Late Pliocene of California, United States)
  • Bucephala angustipes (Early Pleistocene of central Europe)
  • Bucephala sp. (Early Pleistocene of Dursunlu, Turkey: Louchart et al. 1998)


  • Louchart, Antoine; Mourer-Chauviré, Cécile; Guleç, Erksin; Howell, Francis Clark & White, Tim D. (1998). L'avifaune de Dursunlu, Turquie, Pléistocène inférieur: climat, environnement et biogéographie. C. R. Acad. Sci. Paris IIA 327(5):341-346. [French with English abridged version] doi:10.1016/S1251-8050(98)80053-0 (HTML abstract)

  Media related to Bucephala at Wikimedia Commons

  1. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 79. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  2. ^ Report of the National conference on utilization of forest products. New national museum, Washington, DC, November 19 and 20, 1924. Issue 13. US Govt. print. off. 1925.

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