Barrow's Goldeneye Life History


Habitat Lakes and PondsBreeds along lakes in parkland, especially alkaline lakes. Winters along rocky coasts.Back to top


Food Aquatic invertebratesAquatic invertebrates and fish eggs, occasionally small fish and vegetation.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Cavity

Nest Description

Nest in tree cavity or nest box, lined with downy feathers from chest of female.

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size:6-12 eggs
Number of Broods:1 brood
Egg Length:2.2-2.8 in (5.7-7 cm)
Egg Width:1.6-1.9 in (3.96-4.72 cm)
Incubation Period:29-31 days
Egg Description:Glossy greenish.
Condition at Hatching:Covered with down, eyes open. Leave nest within two days after hatching.
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Behavior Surface DiveDives underwater to capture prey on bottom. Flocks often dive together.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernBarrow's Goldeneye populations appear stable, but have may have experienced a small decline between 1966 and 2014, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. They are not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List.Back to top

Backyard Tips

Consider putting up a nest box to attract a breeding pair. Make sure you put it up well before breeding season. Attach a guard to keep predators from raiding eggs and young. Find out more about nest boxes on our Attract Birds pages. You'll find plans for building a nest box of the appropriate size on our All About Birdhouses site.

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Eadie, John M., Jean-Pierre L. Savard and Mark L. Mallory. (2000). Barrow's Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2015.2. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2015.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. (2014). The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Sauer, J. R., J. E. Hines, J. E. Fallon, K. L. Pardieck, Jr. Ziolkowski, D. J. and W. A. Link. The North American Breeding Bird Survey, results and analysis 1966-2013 (Version 1.30.15). USGS Patuxtent Wildlife Research Center (2014b). Available from

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

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