Barrow’s Goldeneye

photo by Phil Swanson

Bucephala islandica
L 18″(46 cm).

Song or calls:
Usually silent. Wings will produce a whining sound in flight. Various sounds made during courtship.

Description: Glossy purple-black head with white crescent (as opposed to oval in Common Goldeneye) in front of eye. Black on back extends in a bar that separates the white breast from the white sides. Female, brown head, thin white collar, and grayish body. Lacks white crescent on face. Wing patch visible in flight is white and divided by black line (Common Goldeneye’s is solid white).

Behavior: Mating display consists of male dipping bill in the water, arcing head over back and whistling.

Barrow's Goldeneye NE estimated range
Habitat: Migrating birds can be found on lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and deeper marshes. Usually winters in coastal habitats.

Where in Nebraska: Rare winter and spring vagrant, mainly occurring in the western part of the state.

Fun Facts: Barrow Goldeneye chicks require very little parental care and often females will lay eggs in other Goldeneye or cavity nesting ducks.