Barrow’s Goldeneye

I’m still focused on getting ready for Christmas, even baking cookies this year, thinking if we give enough away I should be able to stay below 180 pounds and still enjoy my favorite part of Christmas, but I can’t resist a local run down to Ruston Way the few times the sun breaks through the clouds. The dominant bird this year definitely seems to be the Barrow’s Goldeneye, apparently having displaced the large number of Common Goldeneye I used to photograph there.

Generally I’m seeing flocks of twenty or thirty birds floating aimlessly, though a few birds have already started to pair off


 Barrow’s Goldeneye

I love watching their mating rituals, though I make no claim to actually understanding the ritual yet. According to the Boreal Birds Organization, “Courtship displays that lead to pair bonds are initiated during the winter months (November through to April). These elaborate courtship displays are often made in small groups of 5-20 birds.

Barrows’s courting ritual

Since they usually drift away when I start photographing them, I’m always a little surprised when one actually looks back directly at me, finding it hard to believe how narrow their head really is.

frontal shot of Barrow’s Goldeneye

I’m equally amazed when they fly away and the chevrons on their wings disappear.

Barrows Goldeneye in flight