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Barrow’s or common goldeneye?

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I saw the bird in the attached photo today (1/17) on the coast in Rye, NH after a storm. The bill and head shape look good for Barrow’s, but the bill color points to common. There were 50+ common goldeneyes in the same area, so there’s always the possibility of a Barrow’s being mixed in. Any thoughts? I’d appreciate the help!


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2 hours ago, Ed hogg said:

Female Goldeneyes can be extremely hard to tell apart. If I had to guess I would say Common, but like I said they are very hard to tell apart so I am not sure.

Thanks @Ed hogg. I know it’s most likely a common given I found it on the east coast. But I’m hoping someone will tell me it’s a Barrow’s.

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I agree with @Jerry Friedman. The size of this ducks bill is consistent with Barrow's. The front of the head isn't sloped like that of Common. It is almost straight up and down. A few of my photos I used to help formulate my opinion below. The first photo shows really well the slope of the head and larger size of the bill on the Common Goldeneye. Yes it is a male but the female is consistent in bill size and head shape. 2nd female Common even though the bill is mostly yellow it shows the size of the bill and slope of the head. Last male Barrows. Ooops reverse 2 and 3 sorry.

058 (4).JPG

185 (3).JPG

017 (3).JPG

Edited by Clip
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8 hours ago, Jerry Friedman said:

Bill size (compared to the head) and head shape look like Barrow's to me, despite the colors.

Apparently it is possible for a female Common to have an all yellow bill and a female Barrow's to have a black bill with a yellow tip ( I have seen a Common with a mostly yellow bill and have a photo somewhere, similar to the one posted above by @Clip).

This Sibley article is worth a read, with a reference to Tony L, and covers some of the more commonly used ID features eg. bill size less helpful (they overlap) than shape (curve of the lower bill and other aspects).


Is this one a young bird (dark eye) transitioning to adult with the bill changing from black to yellow. With just this one photo I would probably go with /.

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@chipperatl, unfortunately this was the only shot I have. I lost the bird in the gigantic swells right after I noticed it might not be a common goldeneye.

Thanks to everyone for weighing in! I guess I can't definitively say this is a Barrow's so I entered it into eBird as a common/Barrow's.

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