Monday, March 27, 2017

A Tale of Two Goldeneyes

There is a great variety of ducks here at Dungeness National Wildlife refuge, including some that are hard to find back in Texas. One interesting pair are the Goldeneyes. There are two, the Common Goldeneye and Barrow's Goldeneye.

As you might guess, the Common Goldeneye is more widespread of the two, ranging nationwide during the winter. We even saw them way offshore while we were leading bird walks at Goose Island State Park this past December. The male Common Goldeneye has an oval white spot on its face and a predominantly white back and sides.
Common Goldeneye male

Here in the Pacific NW they are one of the more common ducks that we see, and are found in both fresh and salt water. Females are more subtlety marked than males, but their orange-tipped bill and golden eye make them distinctive. 
Common Goldeneye pair, with female Bufflehead in the foreground

Barrow's Goldeneyes are more restricted in their range. The Pacific and north Atlantic coasts are their main stomping grounds, though they do move inland to breed. The male Barrow's Goldeneye has a crescent-shaped white mark on its face and a darker back. 
Barrow's Goldeneye male

I've not yet gotten a good picture of a Barrow's Goldeneye female, but they are distinguished from the Common Goldeneye by their entirely orange bill. 

Trio of Barrow's Goldeneye males

We're enjoying the opportunity to closely observe birds that are uncommon in many areas of the country. More to come!!



  1. Your photos are like a narrated field guide! I love them.... looking forward to more.

  2. Thanks Mark and Teri for great pics and explanations. I learn a great deal from each post.