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Barrow's Goldeneye Bucephala islandica


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Barrow's Goldeneye male
credit:  Arpingstone

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Anatidae, Ducks and Geese view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has proportionately large, rounded, iridescent purple head with very steep forehead and vertical white crescent marking just behind base of bill. Ladder of white markings can be seen on otherwise black back; black extends forward as prominent "spur" shape in swimming birds. Vent is black, but neck and underparts are otherwise white. Note the beady yellow eye. First-winter plumage has colors of adult female, but hint of adult's facial crescent. ADULT FEMALE Dark brown head separated from gray-brown body plumage by pale neck. Bill is mostly dull orange-yellow (color confined to tip in female Common), but a bit darker in summer. JUVENILE Similar to adult female, but bill and eye are dark.

Dimensions Length: 16 1/2 -20" (42-51 cm)

Habitat Local in east (far more widespread in western North America). In summer, found on Arctic lakes and ponds. Most move to sheltered coasts in winter.

Observation Tips Search northern coasts in winter.

Range Eastern Canada, New England, California, Northwest, Plains, Great Lakes, Alaska, Western Canada, Rocky Mountains, Mid-Atlantic, Southwest

Voice Mostly silent.

Discussion Compact diving duck that feeds on aquatic invertebrates. Similar to Common Goldeneye, but note Barrow's steeper forehead and smaller bill. Adult male's crescent shaped (not oval) white face patch is diagnostic, and greater extent of black on back is a useful distinguishing feature. In flight, white on inner upper wing is less extensive than in Common Goldeneye.