Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Barrow's Goldeneye

My December 2021 trip to Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Utah was pretty uneventful in terms of the number of birds I saw. But two of the birds were firsts for me, the Barrow's goldeneye and the rough-legged hawk. I'll take a few new birds any day over lots of birds I've seen previously. 

I was using my new Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 mm zoom lens instead of the Tamron 150-600 mm zoom lens I've been using. I was taking photos that seemed too far away, but I'm finding that the clarity of the photos with the Canon lens is so good that it makes up for the lesser zoom. A case in point was this mallard with two female Barrow's goldeneyes. They were very distant in the initial photo, I had no idea what kind of ducks they were when I took the photo, but they cropped real well, much clearer than the usual Tamron photos. 
The Barrow's goldeneye is much less prevalent than the common goldeneye. The range map from Audubon shows that it is found primarily in the Pacific Northwest and that where I saw it, just northeast of the Great Salt Lake, it is an uncommon winter visitor. As far as I can tell, my sighting is the only one reported at Bear River MBR on iNaturalist. 
The light blue is uncommon - winter. The darker blue is common - winter (along the coast of Alaska and British Columbia). Dark purple is common - all seasons (see Yellowstone). Lighter purple or violet is uncommon - all seasons. Red is common - breeding and pink is uncommon - breeding. 
It generally breeds in areas of wooded lakes and ponds. They winter on coastal waters and rivers, but may winter far inland on lakes and rivers even in very cold regions. 

The male has a large head with a purplish gloss and a white crescent on the front of the face between the bill and the eye. The the back and wings are black with white spots, and the rest of the body is white. The female has a warm brown head, with a white collar that is often hidden (depending on posture), a gray body and mostly yellow (often more orange) bill, although I find photos, like mine, where the bill is black with an orange tip (see one of the photos in Wikipedia entry). The female is a really beautiful bird. 

1 comment:

  1. How fun to have a "rare" sighting in an unusual place! It is a little creepy-looking with those pinpoint pupils and yellow eyes.