Barrow's Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica)

Above and below: A hen Barrow's Goldeneye on the Choptank River at Cambridge, Maryland (1/10/2009). This is the fourth record for Maryland (one of which was a specimen), the first female of the species recorded in Maryland (aside from the specimen), and the first record for the species on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The bird was found by Mikey Lutmerding and then relocated and further documented by Jim Stasz et al.

Below: A comparison of females of the two species. I didn't quite get an ideal double profile, but the difference is still striking.

Below two: As Stasz pointed out, the shape of the nail is a useful field mark for confirming Barrow's Goldeneye.

Below: Here is a distant Common Goldeneye showing nail taken for comparison (Cambridge, Maryland, 1/10/2009).

Below two: A couple more of this incredible bird. I still can hardly believe it.

Below: An adult male Barrow's Goldeneye over the Patuxent River in Calvert Co., Maryland (2/8/2009). Tyler Bell found this excellent rarity on 2/7/2009. It is the first record of a drake Barrow's and the first record on the western shore of Maryland in almost 10 years. The last drake Barrow's was present off the Patuxent River Naval Air Station from 2/27/1999 to 3/6/1999.

Below: A drake Barrow's Goldeneye in flight, Ottawa, Canada

Below: A drake Barrow's Goldeneye (left) and drake Common Goldeneye (right) in flight

Running to take flight: hen Common Goldeneye and drake Barrow's Goldeneye

Drake Barrow's (left) with Common Goldeneyes (right)

Drake Barrow's (right) with two drake Common Goldeneyes (left), one displaying

Comments:  The Barrow's Goldeneye is typically found in the western U.S., far northeastern Canada, and northern New England, but does occasionally wander. I photographed my first of this attractive species on the Ottawa River in Ontario, Canada in February 2005. Like Wood Ducks, Bufflehead, and Common Goldeneyes, this species usually nests in natural cavities in trees or rock crevices, and may nest in western mountains at altitudes of up to 10,000 feet. The first thing the ducklings must do after hatching is jump from the nesting cavity to the forest floor below, often from heights of up to 50 feet! Similar species: Common Goldeneye

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