Tuesday, December 22, 2009


My target bird while checking out the South Platte on Saturday was a reported Barrow's Goldeneye. It had been seen and refound by a number of Denver area birders, at both the Evans and Florida Avenue bridges.

My previous sighting of this species was through bins out in the middle of Baseline Reservoir. It was a chance to see the bird, but nothing like this close range exposure where I was at times no more then 10 yards away from this male as it fished in the rapids.

I mentioned in the previous post that I had started off in the wrong direction from where I parked, and as a result saw a great variety of ducks, geese, and mergansers along the river. Among the many species were a handful of the much more numerous Common Goldeneye. The male above gives an opportunity to see the differences in their field marks. Note the solid upper boarder of the white on the wing, the more smooth transition between the bill and angle of the forehead, and of course the obvious oval shape of the white cheek patch.

Here is a female Common Goldeneye, she has a tell-tale yellow tip to her bill. Should I ever track down a female Barrow's her bill should show yellow from base to tip.

Check this picture for the field marks on the Male Barrow's; it has the distinctive white spots along the back, a noticeable angle between the bill and head, and of course when visible the teardrop shape cheek patch.

Our fine Barrow's fellow wasn't going solo just because he was the only representative of his clan - he just found a Common Goldeneye female, and the two seemed to enjoy some cross species company. I watched as they preened near one another and did a bit of diving in the rapidly moving water below the bridge. Perhaps next year there will be a hybrid or two to sort out!

A great looking bird, and a great opportunity to see it up close!

1 comment:

  1. Very nice series of photos! Those are very pretty birds!