A Visual Study
First-Spring Barrow's Goldeneye Ducks In Utah
"What does a First Winter-Spring Barrow's Goldeneye look like?"
Below are examples of Barrow's Goldeneyes, Jordan River Parkway,
Salt Lake County, UT., February, 2010.
A "flotilla" of Barrow's Goldeneyes (even more were seen outside this frame).
Breaking down the above image,from the far left, here are the 3 birds:
Foreground: Female Barrow's
Midground: 1st Spring Male Barrow's
Please note, the emergence of a white crescent near the black bill!
Background: Adult Male Barrow's
The birds on the right of the panorama above:
3 Males and 1 female, breeding plumage.
This image was taken at Jordan River Parkway, about 2300 South.
The expanded images demonstrate:
3 distinct individual 1st Winter-Spring Male Barrow's Goldeneyes.
Telltale visual evidence:
Black bills of the male,
Developing white crescent at the base of the bill.
Another Barrow's Goldeneye image provides more examples seen in early February
In my photographs, a few 1ST SPRING GOLDENEYES WERE SEEN LACKING ANY WHITE (CRESCENT) NEAR THE BASE OF THE BILL.
Diagonally, across the top of this image are 3 adult Barrow's Goldeneyes; 2 males-
They are followed by 3 1st-Spring-male Barrow's Goldeneyes; but only the center one has any indication of a white crescent beginning to appear at the base of the bill.
Look more closely at the circled birds (image below this one).
Notice, only the center male has any white coloration at the base of his bill.
Thus, there is a time when 1st Spring male Barrow's have no white on their heads.
The question arises:
Could these 2 be 1st Spring females?
Not likely. Sibley says the 1st winter female's bill begins to transition to yellow around December. These images were taken in February, and I do have examples of that transition below.
Here are 2 1st-Winter-Spring males, along with a 1st-Winter-Spring female shown with its bill in the process of transition from black to yellow.
This image is a courtesy photo from the National Parks Service, showing
juvenile Barrow's in Summertime at Yellowstone N.P.
Both sexes are indistinguishable at this time.
Before leaving the subject of Goldeneyes
1st Spring Male Common Goldeneyes
1st Spring Male Common Goldeneye (left side)
3 Male Common Goldeneyes, in varying degrees of transition