Underwater Camera Catches Diving Goldeneye in Action
Every waterfowler has marveled as diving ducks disappeared from the water’s surface and then bobbed back up. Now, an enthusiast video gives us a firsthand look at their behavior underwater.
The footage, posted on social media and YouTube by the group Ryby na Zywo (Fish to Live in Polish), shows a drake common goldeneye diving, feeding and then springing back to the surface. The proprietors of Ryby na Zywo had apparently placed some type of bait in the area to attract fish. The group has produced many underwater fish videos.
“Groundbait has been eaten as a whole,” the group wrote in Polish in the caption of the YouTube video, labeled kaczka, which is Polish for duck. “As it turns out, the culprit of this practice was not just fish.”
The footage is fascinating because it shows how gracefully the whistler moves underwater — a testament to the evolutionary adaptations that let it feed and travel while submerged.
“First, the body of a diving duck is much more compact and fusiform (wider in the middle and tapering toward the end) than that of a dabbler,” John M. Coluccy and Heather Shaw wrote in an article on Ducks Unlimited’s website. “Divers’ wings are also more compact, which allows them to be compressed tightly against the body for greater diving efficiency. In addition, divers’ legs are set much farther back on their body, and their feet are much larger and have a lobed hind toe. These adaptations help propel the birds while they are underwater.”
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the footage occurs when the drake resurfaces by simply pumping its feet once or twice and bobbing to the top like a cork. No wonder they seem to appear from nowhere after traveling underwater.
Remember this video the next time you watch goldeneyes or other divers in their natural habitat. You’ll have a better idea of what they’re doing under the surface for so long.
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Realtree waterfowl editor Brian Lovett has been an obsessive duck and goose hunter for more than 30 years, chasing his passion on the Dakota prairies and the marshes and open water of his home state of Wisconsin. He's been a writer and editor in the outdoors industry since 1991.