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Barrow's Goldeneye - BirdForum Opus

Revision as of 09:25, 7 June 2023 by THEFERN-13145 (talk | contribs) (→‎Identification)
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Males (foreground) with male Common Goldeneye (background)
Photo by snowyowl
Location: Prince Edward Island, Canada, February 2005
Bucephala islandica


Males (breeding):

  • Head with a purplish gloss, white crescent at the front of the face which extends above eye.
  • Bill black with hook
  • Neck and underparts to vent white
  • Upperparts and rear including vent black. Black "boa" or "spike" extends downwards at the base of the neck
  • Secondaries, tertials and scapulars white, showing as more or less distinct patches (bordered by black fringes)


  • Head light to medium brown
  • Bill black, hooked, with a variable pinkish to orangy patch
  • Neck white
  • Body including most of the wings greyish with slight scalloping
  • Secondaries/tertials white. This may show as a patch at the rear when at rest

Similar Species

Similar to Common Goldeneye. Different in:

  • beak shape. Shorter than Common, "dinky"
  • head shape. Often appears more rounded than Common; actually elongated from rear base to forehead
  • eye colour subtly different. Paler than Common, making it flat yellow in the male and with a greenish tint in the female
  • male head pattern. Bluish cf greenish in Common. White streak is elongated instead of rounded and reaches above eye
  • male wing pattern. More extensive white on Common makes for more of a white panel. In Barrow's, scapulars (especially) appear as unconnected splodges


Photo by bobsofpa
Schwabacher Landing, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA, June 2007

A mainly North American duck, the only Western Palearctic breeding area is Iceland where a fairly common resident, especially in the Lake Myvatn area.

Elsewhere in Europe a vagrant or escape; recorded in the Faroes and Britain east to Sweden, Poland and northern Russia, north to Svalbard and south to Spain. Other reports have involved obvious escapes and until ringing recoveries show genuine vagrancy does occur then all reports of this species must be treated with caution. Icelandic birds are sedentary, remaining on breeding waters or moving to larger lakes nearby.

Any genuine vagrants in Europe are more likely to originate from the more migratory Canadian populations.




Breeds on small lakes and rivers, some moving to larger freshwaters and sheltered coasts nearby in winter.

Photo by eastwood
Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada, February 2009



The diet includes aquatic insects, crustaceans and pond vegetation.


They nest in tree cavities or in burrows or on the ground in scrub.


  1. Clements, JF. 2008. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to December 2008. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019.
  2. Wikipedia
  3. Collins Bird Guide ISBN 0 00 219728 6

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.