Common Name

Scientific Name


Photo by Larry Dalton and Laura Romin
Photo Copyright Larry Dalton and Laura Romin

Barrow's goldeneye, Bucephala islandica, breeds in Alaska, Canada, Iceland, Greenland, and the northwestern United States. It winters in areas including the Pacific coast of North America, from southern Alaska to central California; the northwestern United States, from Washington to Colorado; southwestern and southeastern Canada; and the northeastern United States. It is a fairly rare winter visitor to northern Utah, and is not known to breed in the state. Barrow's goldeneye nests in areas with thick vegetation near water, and may build its nests in tree cavities or holes in stream banks. During winter, it spends its time on rivers, lakes, marshes, and coastal waters.

Females generally lay six to fifteen eggs; the eggs are incubated by the female alone for about 30 days before hatching. Interestingly, it is not uncommon for females of this species to lay eggs in the nests of other female Barrow's goldeneyes. This diving duck eats aquatic invertebrates, such as insects and shellfish, plant matter, small fishes, and fish eggs. Males have a black and white colored body, with a purplish-black head, and a white marking in front of the eye. Females are a more drab gray/brown, with a white ring on the neck, and a dark brown head.


  • Biotics Database. 2005. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, NatureServe, and the network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.

  • Peterson, R. T., and V. M. Peterson. 1990. A field guide to western birds, 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 432 pp.