Barrow's goldeneye (Bucephala islandica) is a medium-sized sea duck of the genus Bucephala, the goldeneyes. This bird was named after Sir John Barrow. The genus name is derived from Ancient Greek boukephalos, "bullheaded", from bous, "bull " and kephale, "head", a reference to the bulbous head shape of the bufflehead. The species name islandica means Iceland.

Adults are similar in appearance to the common goldeneye. Adult males have a dark head with a purplish gloss and a white crescent at the front of the face. Adult females have a mostly yellow bill. The male Barrow's goldeneye differs from the male common goldeneye in the fact that the common goldeneye has a round white patches on the face, less black on the back of the bird, and a larger bill. For the females, the common goldeneye has a less rounded head, and a bill in which only the tip is yellow.



Their breeding habitat consists of wooded lakes and ponds primarily in northwestern North America, but also in scattered locations in eastern Canada and Iceland. Females return to the same breeding sites year after year and also tend to use the same nesting sites. The males stay with their mate through the winter and defend their territory during the breeding season, then leave for the molting site. Mating pairs often stay intact even though the male and female are apart for long periods of time over the summer during molting times. The pair then reunites at wintering areas.

In Icelandic the bird is known as húsönd (house-duck); it is a common species of the Lake Mývatn in the north of the country.

They are migratory and most winter in protected coastal waters or open inland waters. Barrow's goldeneye, along with many other species of sea ducks, rely on urbanized, coastal estuaries as important places on their migration patterns. These estuaries provide excellent wintering and stopping places during the ducks' migration. It is an extremely rare vagrant to western Europe and to southern North America.

These diving birds forage underwater. They eat aquatic insects, crustaceans and pond vegetation. The main staples of the bird's diet are Gammarus oceanicus and Calliopus laeviusculus, which are both marine crustaceans. A large part of their diet consists of mussels and gastropods.

The Barrow's goldeneye is considered an arboreal bird species because much of its nesting is done in cavities found in mature trees. The birds will also nest in burrows or protected sites on the ground. Barrow's goldeneyes tend not to share habitat with the much more numerous common goldeneye. Barrow's goldeneye tend to be territorial towards other birds venturing into their domain. This is especially true among the drakes. Confrontations may occur in the form of fighting. Drakes often do a form of territorial display along the boundaries of their territory. This is both true on land and in the water. These territorial displays average about 6 minutes in length and often trigger other males to perform their own show.

Very little is known about the breeding sites and patterns of the Barrow's goldeneye. After the breeding season, the birds migrate to specific molting sites to undergo molting, the loss and regeneration of feathers which causes them to be flightless for anywhere from 20–40 days. These molting sites are often wetlands that are more drought resistant and plentiful in food, along with being less influenced by humans and predators.

The Barrow's goldeneye was greatly affected by the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. The spill greatly impacted the bird's wintering areas, and numbers of the birds in these areas decreased after the spill. The birds' exposure to the oil spill mainly occurred in the shallow water mussel beds along the coast.

The Barrow's goldeneye is a relatively quiet bird that generally only makes vocalizations during the breeding season and courtship. These can include low volume squeaks, grunts and croaks. During flights, the fast movement of the bird's wings creates a low whistling sound.

Average Weight: Male 2.13 lbs., Female 1.31 lbs. Average Length: Male 19.2", Female 17"
Barrow's Goldeneye
Date Location Count
2021-09-11 12:00Station d'épuration, Lévis1
2021-08-22 12:00Baie des Escoumins1
2021-08-31 14:14Island Lake3
2021-09-11 09:30Titcomb Basin92
2021-08-31 09:27Yellowstone NP--Trout Lake & Trail1
2021-08-22 12:30Yellowstone NP--Lamar Valley River Trail5
2021-09-09 11:27Yellowstone NP--Mary Bay Picnic Area100
2021-09-12 14:32Yellowstone NP--Indian Pond1
2021-08-24 09:59Yellowstone NP--Storm Point25
2021-09-12 13:29Yellowstone NP--Pelican Creek6
2021-09-13 07:41Yellowstone NP--Fishing Bridge150
2021-09-12 17:27Yellowstone NP--Lake Yellowstone at Lake Lodge16
2021-08-25 12:23Yellowstone NP--Gull Point Drive8
2021-09-12 06:36Nez Perce Ford Picnic Area68
2021-09-11 14:55Yellowstone NP--Bridge Bay10
2021-09-05 10:47Yellowstone NP--Hayden Valley25
2021-08-23 07:24Grand Teton NP--Snake River Overlook3
2021-09-09 18:00Yellowstone NP--Hayden Valley--Alum Creek6
2021-09-11 14:12Yellowstone NP--Arnica Creek Picnic Area5
2021-08-23 08:30Yellowstone NP--Floating Island Lake2
2021-09-14 13:26Yellowstone NP--Grant Village12
2021-09-14 16:29Yellowstone NP--West Thumb Geyser Basin15
2021-08-25 10:53Yellowstone NP--Duck Lake9
2021-09-15 09:50Yellowstone NP--West Thumb12
2021-08-28 09:20Grand Teton NP--Jackson Lake Overlook10
2021-08-20 09:50Yellowstone NP--Grebe Lake4
2021-08-23Grand Teton NP--Moose Wilson Rd. wetlands overlook3
2021-08-29 15:14National Elk Refuge--Bert's Bench6
2021-09-05 09:39Flat Creek Wildlife Observation Pt.2
2021-08-22 12:25South Park Wildlife Habitat Management Area3
2021-09-10 10:12Rockefeller Preserve2
2021-08-23 16:00Yellowstone NP--Swan Lake14
2021-08-25 14:09Hyalite Reservoir3
2021-08-19 09:44Hebgen Lake--Madison Arm27
2021-09-02 10:23Targhee Creek Trail2
2021-09-10 17:10Henrys Lake SP--Boat Dock6
2021-09-06 16:20Henrys Lake11
2021-09-12 10:08Henrys Lake--North Parking Area3
2021-09-11 10:07Bill Frome Memorial County RV Park4
2021-09-15 09:50Arco Ponds6
2021-09-01 12:50Warm Springs WMA--Garnet Way Ponds8
2021-09-10 08:26Glacier NP--Upper Two Medicine Lake Trail1
2021-09-15 07:42Lee Metcalf NWR1
2021-09-16 08:30Lee Metcalf NWR--Wildfowl Lane Dr.1
2021-09-10 08:33Glacier NP--Fishercap Lake2
2021-09-01 09:16Glacier NP--Grinnell Glacier Trail-Trailhead to Grinnell Glacier4
2021-09-08 14:29Waterton Lakes NP--Lonesome Lake10
2021-09-11 15:52Fernie Alpine Resort2
2021-09-16 10:08Island Lake4
2021-08-23 11:14Elbow Falls PRA--Beaver Flat Trails (Beaver Lodge)3
2021-08-20 12:20Peter Lougheed PP--Lower Kananaskis Lake2
2021-08-22 09:01Exshaw Sewage Ponds (limited access)1
2021-08-23 09:24Elizabeth Lake, Cranbrook8
2021-09-17 10:56Saint Mary Lake2
2021-09-08 10:30Yoho National Park--Lake O'Hara2
2021-08-20 14:15Yoho National Park--Yoho Valley Trail4
2021-09-14 07:51La Grande Sewage Ponds1
2021-08-24 07:45Castlegar--Selkirk College Trails1
2021-08-31 11:40Castlegar--Waldie Island1
2021-08-26 09:00Burton--creek mouth1
2021-08-28 12:08Jasper National Park--Maligne Lake4
2021-08-21 09:35Jasper National Park--Maligne Valley--Beaver Lake Trail1
2021-08-24 08:43Jasper NP--Jasper Park Lodge Resort2
2021-09-16 09:17Lumby--Rawlings Lake1
2021-08-21 09:15Mahoney Lake1
2021-09-06 18:44Kelowna--Munson Pond2
2021-09-04 11:10Winthrop STP1
2021-08-20 08:31Cathedral Lakes--general3
2021-09-06 12:57Wenas Lake1
2021-09-13 13:50Separation Lakes, Princeton10
2021-09-08 16:41Kamloops -- Deleeuw Rd/Rose Hill Rd Loop23
2021-09-08 15:56Separation Lake, Knutsford20
2021-09-10 11:21Lake Ewauna--North Shore Trail1
2021-08-26 09:24Albert McGowan Park4
2021-08-31 13:00Kamloops--Goose Lake Road2
2021-08-29 10:15Goose Lake12
2021-08-21 14:09EC Manning Provincial Park (general)10
2021-08-20 06:37Clear Lake (Yakima Co.)1
2021-09-11 13:49Wickiup Reservoir10
2021-08-29 16:03Deception Pass Trail (Tuquala Meadows / Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area)1
2021-09-09 14:31Manning Park--Lone Duck Lake5
2021-09-17 08:37Manning Park--Lightning Lake1
2021-09-03 07:18Manning Park--Spruce Bay Beach5
2021-09-15 14:00Black Butte Ranch6
2021-09-05 06:48Tranquille3
2021-08-22 10:04Square Lake6
2021-09-03 19:03Colonial Creek Campground/Thunder Arm27
2021-08-22 12:08Booth Lake1
2021-08-25 13:04Little Crater Lake3
2021-09-04 12:15Taklakh Lake4
2021-08-29 10:01Mt. Rainier NP--Naches Peak Loop Trail (Pierce Co.)1
2021-08-28 08:10Crescent Lake2
2021-09-02 09:30Timothy Lake7
2021-08-23 11:14Bobby Lake1
2021-09-06 10:14Mamit Lake6
2021-09-16 07:14Logan Lake2
2021-08-29 15:07Gifford Pinchot NF--Goose Lake9
2021-09-16 11:30Clear Lake (Linn Co.)7
2021-09-12 10:00Gfford Pinchot NF--Indian Heaven Wilderness2
2021-09-01 18:20McBride--Horseshoe Lake2
2021-09-02 07:39Graham Lakes4
2021-09-12 14:2570 Mile House Ponds1
2021-08-20 12:45100 Mile Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary1
2021-09-06 07:10Walker Valley, 108 Mile Ranch1
2021-08-25 09:03Tulalip Bay (Tulalip Reservation)1
2021-08-23 12:07Fountain Valley--Chilhil Lake40
2021-08-20 07:26Lilliwaup Bay1
2021-08-19 14:21Fort St. John--north sewage lagoons
2021-09-08 12:55Becher's Prairie--Rock Lake12
2021-09-01 13:50Becher's Prairie--Drummond Lake10
2021-09-10 10:52Jackfish Lake Rd--Big Lake50
2021-09-14 08:00Bouchie Lake4
2021-08-29 09:06Eaglet Lake2
2021-09-16 10:34Fletcher Lake10
2021-09-10 17:30Shelley sludge lagoons1
2021-08-24 10:30Spipiyus PP, Sunshine Coast10
2021-09-13 08:33Prince George--Cottonwood Island7
2021-09-04 06:30Tatlayoko Lake Bird Observatory1
2021-09-13 07:00Eagle Lake, Chilcotin1
2021-08-21 07:00Kitimat--Minette Bay2
2021-08-30 08:30Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park8
2021-08-29 14:15Teslin--Nisutlin Bay--west end5
2021-09-15 07:00Teslin Lake--Teslin Lake Bird Observatory2
2021-09-15 16:44Nares Lake--west (Grayling Bay)9
2021-09-10 14:40Kakul Narrows (E of Salisbury Sound)2
2021-09-16 17:19Kookatsoon Lake2
2021-09-05 15:41Whitehorse--Mary Lake29
2021-08-30 17:07Whitehorse--sewage ponds (restricted access)1
2021-08-20 13:11Whitehorse--Crestview sewage ponds (restricted access)1
2021-09-12 13:51Whitehorse--Crestview3
2021-09-06 14:24Yukon Wildlife Preserve5
2021-08-22 11:45Takhini Saltponds
2021-09-05 11:30Riser Lake2
2021-09-08 14:43Laxá í Mývatnssveit (Laxá river--general)5
2021-09-16 13:58Mývatn--Álftavogur4
2021-09-08 15:00Mývatn--Belgjarbára2
2021-09-09 11:22Mývatn & Laxá--general area (please consider using more specific locations)1
2021-08-29 19:30Mývatn--Strandarvogur2
2021-08-28 15:55Ásbyrgi3
2021-09-06 16:05Kenny Lake--pond SE of Kenny Lake (Edgerton Hwy)
2021-09-04 07:11Kenny Lake (Edgerton Highway)5
2021-08-23 08:52Chena Lake RA (North Pole)1
2021-08-31 10:13Jim Lake (Jim Creek IBA/Maud Rd-Butte)1
2021-09-01 06:00Mud Lake (private parking-Jim Creek IBA/Maud Rd-Butte)5
2021-08-24 09:00Kenai Fjords NP--Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge4
2021-09-01 17:25Westchester Lagoon17
2021-09-16 18:26Lake Hood & Lake Spenard (Anc. Int. Airport)35
2021-08-29 10:47Kodiak Is.--Chiniak Lake and vicinity4
2021-08-29 13:01Anchor Point2
2021-09-02 07:42Kodiak Is.--Kalsin Pond and Olds River Estuary4
2021-08-26 10:01Iliamna (town)1