The Rite of Spring: Goldeneyes Courting

From afar, I could only see their amusing act through my camera lens. The male Common Goldeneye would let out a sharp call, stretch his neck straight up, drawing attention, then quickly bend his head far backwards, touching his rump, then snap right back, overcompensating by kicking his orange feet out of the water.

Pardon the inadequate description above. Actually looking at them is hilarious, like watching a bunch of class clowns trying desperately to impress. Here’s the sequence.

A sharp call to draw attention:

Sharp call

Stretch neck straight up:

Neck straight up

Bend over backwards:

Bend over backwards

Snap out of it:

Kick orange feet up

Male synchronized swimming – courting en masse:

Everybody together now

As for the females, looks like they are not easily moved, or maybe just feigning indifference:

Females paying no attention

No matter. Spring is at hand.


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If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

31 thoughts on “The Rite of Spring: Goldeneyes Courting”

    1. You know, Denise, I saw the antics and wondered why they did those funny moves but of course I had my guess. Only after I went home and Googled it that my suspicion was confirmed. 😉


  1. Oh i love this post!!! i felt like i was watching the Goldeneye’s courting act with you. thanks Arti for sharing and isn’t nature fun?


  2. What a fantastic series of shots. I love seeing birds exhibiting their behaviours like that. Those ducks are gorgeous. I haven’t been bird watching in ages. I should try and get out this week…


    1. Louise,

      O but you have so many other attractions in your area… all the goodies, arts and museums, summer festivals and activities… I wouldn’t have time for birding either if I were there. 😉


  3. You did get some very good pictures of these ducks. They are very pretty. I have not seen their types around here. Whenever I have tried to take pictures of ducks I mostly catch them when they are looking in the water for something – I mean I catch their behinds…

    I read your post on Downton finale. I could not watch it on TV as we had gone out to eat but I saw it on my computer. I am always amazed by the beauty of their outfits. I did read that Maggie Smith had said she would not be in the series after season 6 but that this has been retracted. I wonder how old she must be in the series if she was able, as a very young woman, to go to the Court of the Tzar way before the Russian Revolution? I did like the character of Prince Igor Kuragin but found him too young for the part since the Croatian actor playing the part, Rade Šerbedžija, is only 68 years old, don’t you think so? But then I am puzzled about their ages. Violet said she had been to the Russian Court in 1884? And she was supposed to be very young, let’s say 18, so that would have meant she was born in 1866, so in 1924 she would be 58 years old? Doesn’t she look older than 58 in the show? Even if she had been 20 or 22 at the time in Russia that still places her in her early 60s. Or am I missing something?


    1. VB,

      You’re absolutely right about the apparent look in age difference between Maggie Smith and the Coatian-born actor who plays Kuragin: 12 years. I think that’s a miscast there. He does look much younger than the Dowager Violet Crawley. I didn’t hear she’d mentioned her age while she first met Kuragin in Russia. But yes, she must be close to 80 at 1924. Sometimes, they just might not have calculated that accurately… I’m not sure about that either. But hey, if the “Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” comes around your area, do go see it. I felt I was looking at the last episode of Downton there. 😉


  4. The photos of the goldeneyes are lovely, and you described their behavior perfectly. Our laughing gulls will do somewhat the same, except they get out of the water. Two or more males will stand facing one another on the docks, point their beaks up into the air and commence trying to outdo one another. It does sound like laughter. Sometimes they get so loud I can hear them from the lake, at least a mile away. Until everyone’s paired up, they gather in large groups, which only increases the noise.

    The most commonly seen mating behavior with any elegance is that of the boat-tailed grackle. It’s so funny to watch. The females will hang around through a whole dance, and then just walk off. The mallards are equally enthusiastic, but there doesn’t seem to be much ritual.


    1. Linda,

      The Goldeneyes are certainly much less ‘in your face’ than the Grackles. The Goldeneyes were just like that, doing their own thing to attract, not confrontational like the Grackles in the video here. That’s why I like watching them, too bad from very far. These photos have been cropped extensively. 😉


  5. These remind me of the loons I love so much in northern Wisconsin. There is nothing like venturing out in my canoe, during the early morning mist, just to heed their call. You, however, have caught the most exquisite pictures. Per usual. 😉

    (p.s. Am on Part 3 of Guermantes Way; amazed to discover all the mention of the Dreyfus affair which I had read about earlier in Robert Harris’ An Officer and A Spy. Imagine two books on the same topic decades apart!)


    1. Bellezza,

      I’ve only seen a Loon once, and it was quite an experience, esp. hearing the the haunting call.

      As for Proust, I’m reading the eBook, and my page no. is different from the hard copy (maybe just about 100 pages or so). But I can tell you, I’m doing it very slowly, maybe just a few pages a week. Yes, in that way I can savour the passages more. I’m particularly impressed by the insights the young narrator gets when he ponders a bit more about how François sees him, he begins to understand the subjectivity of one’s perception about another person. These are some lines I’ve highlighted (thanks to the feature in iBooks):

      “… all reality is perhaps equally dissimilar from what we think ourselves to be directly perceiving… the same with love?”

      and this passage, rewardingly Proust:

      “And thus it was she (François) who first gave me the idea that a person does not (as I had imagined) stand motionless and clear before our eyes with his merits, his defects, his plans, his intentions with regard to ourself exposed on his surface, like a garden at which, with all its borders spread out before us, we gaze through a railing (like me birdwatching from afar 😉 ) but is a shadow which we can never succeed in penetrating, of which there can be no such thing as direct knowledge… a shadow behind which we can alternately imagine, with equal justification, that there burns the flame of hatred and of love.”

      Although I’m way behind, I’m really grateful that we’re reading it together. By the time I finish The Guermantes Way probably you’ll have read (or listened to) it twice. 😉


      1. No, I think listening to it is foolish. For me, anyway. I am unable to highlight passages, and thus whole pieces of meaning escape me. I think I’ll finish with Part 3 on audio, and read Part 4 physically. And probably I’ll need to go back because I don’t remember those lovely quotes you recorded here…


  6. The opposite to the ‘bend and snap’ loved your photos. I’ve been studying Stravinsky’s ‘The Rite of Spring’ for a few weeks and my eyes flew to this headline hoping for your insight on it 😊. Best wishes Charlotte


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