One for the Ladies

Welcome to day 2,667 of the Illinois lockdown! If there is any plus side to all this, the downtime is giving my body a chance to finally get healed from the wear and tear brought on by last season’s race circuit. Not sure if it is just the heavier trail course runs or my hatred for Father Time, but injuries are taking longer to heal. I upped my off-season workouts to better prepare for the pending toll, but that has come at a cost of stressing the supporting cast of muscles and joints. Blew my back out last Monday and trying to get that repaired so I can get back on the trails – downtime just makes this whole situation even worse. Already prepping for the race schedule to be nearly back to back when this all lifts which means everything has to be functioning at peak performance. Lemonade out of lemons, have plenty of time to focus on reducing my backlog!

Common Goldeneye found at at LeClaire Iowa locks in January 2017

While going through the newly discovered images, found this interesting duck staring at me, piercing my soul with a finely focused golden ray. When the pain became too much to bear, called for Linda to help free myself from its deadly gaze. What could this strange creature be – to the reference books! The duller color palette indicated a strong likelihood our specimen was a female which causes some additional work as many of the female ducks tend to start looking alike as they often have mixtures of brown feathering.

Common Goldeneye found at the LeClaire Iowa locks in January 2017

Hit the jump to read and see a bit more about this golden one.

In a quick attempt to limit the search, headed back to the image store to check out if there were any pictures left out when I processed this set. Typically I’ll widen out the zoom to capture any companions that happen to have been hanging out in the general area. These shots are rarely interesting enough to bring to the blog, however, their help in the IDing process is tremendous. Catching a glimpse of a nearby drake keeping watch on a bunch of females or being able to pair up a female with a captured drake can tip the scales if there is some doubt between similar species. Struck out in this case (guessed that as I generally throw a shot like in the queue if I have it). Decided to search on anything with a gold eye — apparently the spirits in the machine decided to visually ridicule me and returned a giant image of DUH!

Common Goldeneye found at the LeClaire Iowa locks in January 2017

Okay, maybe the mechanical synapses did return the image of the correct duck – but my brain immediately triggered the “idiot” response. Obviously, this specimen was a Goldeneye. A few page turns confirmed it did match the female coloring. The drake is quite dapper in its iridescent green head and splashed white wings with black details. They also sport a large round white patch between their eye and bill – much smaller than say the Ruddy Duck and more forward than the female Bufflehead. As you can tell, from these shots, the female Goldeneye lacks this spot entirely. What it does share with the drake and the root of its name is the distinct and bright eye. Incredibly beautiful – almost glows if you get the light to catch it just right. There are actually two Goldeneye species – the Common Goldeneye and the Barrow’s. Luckily there are three key distinguishing attributes. One is is your feet. Depending on where your feet happen to be can be a big differentiator. Standing anywhere other than the upper Northwest of North America it is a high likelihood it is the Common variety as the Barrow’s has a much narrower region compared to the broad entirety the Common tends to roam. Second is the bill. If the specimen has a lot of yellow/orange on the bill the lean is to the Barrow’s (the one here shows no yellow/orange on the bill). The last indicator is more of a relative comparison that can be difficult to verify in the field. The shape of the head on the Common is more triangular vs the flatter more rounder head of the Barrow’s. Easy to tell once you have them side by side – unless you are able to really see the steep triangle from bill to head I’d leave this one to when you get back home.

Common Goldeneye found at the LeClaire Iowa locks in January 2017

Okay, that brings us to the end of the shots. Not that I didn’t take a lot as there were plenty in the tin. Unfortunately these were the least soft and opted to toss the others (clearly even these could have used a little better execution). Should probably mention that this specimen come to you from the Lock and Dam in LeClaire, IA. We were up there for our traditional Eagle shoot in January 2017 – I’ll blame my freezing hands for the soft images ha. I know a lot of my birder friends head up there so keep your eyes open for the Goldeneyes. On the facts side, these Goldeneye females like to drop their eggs on their neighbors – on closure looks like it’s a free for all between the two Goldeneye species, Wood Ducks and Hooded Mergansers according to Cornell. Like the Woods, the Goldeneyes nest above the water/ground in whatever tree cavities they can find or the kind people who provide nest boxes. Talk about tough love on the parenting front, a day after they hatch, they leave the nest.. translated controlled crash to the ground as they heed the call of their parents on the ground – the true antithesis of our lockdown.

Going to call it there for a post. Excited about this one for the ladies… as in a +1 on my list thanks to this female Goldeneye. Stay fluffy everyone!


12 thoughts on “One for the Ladies”

  1. Sat here shouting at the screen “It’s a Goldeneye! Bri it’s a Goldeneye!” Guess you don’t get to see as many as we do. Always think the golden eye is a good clue to the id. Now a Barrow’s would be a nice addition to my life list.

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    1. Brian… I was also shouting at the screen Goldeneye!!! How can he not know it was a Goldeneye?!
      I have seen both. In the NW in Washington State and we see the Common all the time here in NL.
      I hope your day count is not correct as I may have to worry about my time traveling buddies…if true, they may have miss calculated the length of isolation in IL!😳😬🙄
      Oh well.🤔
      He safe and heal that back b/c I am sure that honey do list is not getting any shorter.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Wow, is everyone familiar with this bird other then me !?! hehehehe. Jealous you have seen the Barrow’s – that has now risen higher in my target list for this year – if I ever get out of this hell hole state. I might need to recalibrate my lockdown count – Linda just walked in and totally demoralized me by stating “It has only been one week since this crappy state went into isolation.” followed by the low blow “hey dufous, even I know that is a Goldeneye”. Brutal this being home all day with my wife, maybe I shouldn’t be in such a hurry to retire ha. Right now the back is coming in handy with the honey do list “cant touch that.. bad back” This will only last so long of course. Thanks for dropping in CJ I promise you and B, I’ll bone up on this duck for next time.

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        1. Funny. This together time is getting to everyone. I had to checkmate the Hubby the first days he was running the house. “Yes, sir General!” After a few of those things snapped into some domestic reasonable tone and not so demanding. I mean he does know I do his laundry but I am also highly trained by the US gov. Meaning I already had scoped out fields of fire from our attic in our neighborhood. He may have to depend on my skills at some point. No joke! Although I am glad I am here and not where you are at with every Tom, Dick, and Harry buying “my first semi auto”. WTF!!! We saw some news clips here about that crazy crap and I just shrug my shoulders at my fellow Americans as they look like dumb asses to the world by doing such things. Really people there is nothing to fear but fear it’s self. Ok, middle of the night here I better be able to perform at this new fast pace life now that the Hubby has 24/7 eyes on me. Menopause and pandemic is not a good mixed drink.😂😂😂😂

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    2. I know, I know, must be the virus as I’m starting to lose my recall. Sounds like you are quite familiar with this species over there – I would love to have a Barrow’s and truth be told I might already have one in the tin from the many trips out west – wasn’t aware there was another variety so might have overlooked it out in the field – back to the image storage! The shocking thing to me was how widespread these dudes.. err dudettes are across the US and to to keep missing them somehow. Now that I have the eye burned into my memory, hopefully I won’t brain fart the next time I feature one here. Hang in there B, things are getting ridiculous here – fight in our local grocery store over meat, Trump talking quarantine and states hunting down visitors from out of state to force them back or into quarantine….new world order.

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      1. Recall, that’s not virus that’s an age thing! 😁 More and more are coming into the store wearing rubber gloves, face masks (mostly those you use when sanding wood) and scarves wrapped around their stupid faces! Avoid us like the plague but shout from a distance when they want something. Told one woman yesterday that she was doing my head in by running away when I tried to answer her question.

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    1. Are you sure you didn’t it because you were staring at Izabella Scorupco and Famke Janssen – that’s my excuse at least. How is the isolation going in your neck of the woods?


      1. As well as can be expected. During boring conference calls with dozens of people all in the same scenario we are, I stare out the window at my bird feeders seeing all sorts of feathered friends. And plenty of opportunity to clearly identify Hairy’s vs. Downy’s. And Red Bellied’s, and Northern Flickers, and Carolina Wren’s, and Black Caps, and Nuthatches, and Doves, and three varieties of squirrels, various finches, and Cardinals, and and and … Oh, back to this conference call.

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