This female Common
Goldeneye was photographed on 10 December 2006 on the Niagara River
above the Falls, Ontario. The bill colour suggests a Barrow's. It
was swimming low in the water with its head feathers sleeked
(compressed) because it was actively diving, making the distinctive
relaxed head shapes of the two species more difficult to determine.
We sent the photos to Bruce Di Labio who has seen more female
Barrow's in southern Ontario than anyone. Bruce said that it was a
This is a Common
Goldeneye because (1) lacks the Barrow's steep forehead and (2) the
bill is too big and long, (3) female Barrow's has a brighter pumpkin
coloured bill, (4) Barrow's has a more chocolate brown head and (5)
longer mane. A few Commons with yellowish bills like this are seen
every year in southern Ontario.