Common Goldeneye with all yellow-orange bill

10 December 2006

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 female Common.


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.


PDF article Bill Colour and Identification of Female Barrow's Goldeneyes by Bruce Di Labio, Ron Pittaway and  Peter Burke