Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Common and Barrow’s Goldeneye

Female goldeneyes are harder to tell apart than the drakes. This first photo is a Common Goldeneye that Erika and I found on 13 December 2019 on Capitol Lake in Olympia. The second we photographed on 17 December 2019 Woodard Bay, near Olympia. Identifying these hens is a lot like telling the drakes apart. The duck in the first photo has a gently sloping forehead and its relatively large bill has a yellow base, but is mostly dark. Look at the second image. That bird has a shorter bill that is mostly yellow. The forehead leaves the bill at an acute angle. All these field marks add up to the second duck being a Barrow’s Goldeneye.
Now for a quiz. What is the goldeneye in the third photo, taken on 20 November 2020 at the Nisqually national wildlife refuge? Although the bill is mostly yellowish, the bill is not particularly stubby. The forehead is not acutely angled. I think these field marks all add up to Common Goldeneye. But, if I am mistaken, it would not be the first time. The yellowish bill leaves me wondering if this might be an immature bird.

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