I literally have such a big head that they had to special-order a cap large enough to fit me when I graduated from high school. And when I was married (long ago) my wife used to tease me by affectionately calling me “buffalo-head” (both true stories).
But I have nothing on the male Common Goldeneye.
Beucephala, the genus name of this species, is derived from ancient Greek and means “bullheaded” and that’s not a reference to being strong-willed. Instead it’s referring to their very large head.
This photo of a male in breeding plumage, taken two days ago at a local pond, illustrates the point. At least at this angle his head appears to be about half as big as his entire body. I’m unsure about exactly what makes it so big – is it actually a large head structurally or is it an effect of the darker feathers on the head and upper neck that appear to be longer than the rest so when they’re erected it makes the head seem huge? Or is it both? I attempted to research the subject but came up empty.
I chose this particular photo because it shows the juncture of those two types/colors of feathers so well at the back of the lower neck. A brief review of my photos of the species suggests that the female shares the large-headed trait but perhaps not to such an exaggerated degree as the male.
Whatever the cause I’ll admit to feeling a special affinity for my big-headed avian brother… 🙂