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Barrow's Goldeneye


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A medium-sized black-and-white diving duck, the Barrow's Goldeneye was originally described from a population living in Iceland. It is, however, primarily a duck of the western mountains of North America.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
16.9–18.9 in
43–48 cm
16.9–46.6 oz
480–1320 g
Other Names
  • Garrot d'Islande (French)

Cool Facts

  • The Barrow's Goldeneye is rather long-lived for a duck, with one individual reaching 18 years of age. Most females do not breed until they are three years old.
  • Like the Common Goldeneye, the Barrow's Goldeneye is not too particular about holding on to its own offspring. A female may lay eggs in the nest of another goldeneye or other species of cavity-nesting duck. Once the ducklings come out of the nest, the broods of different females often come together and are taken care of by a single female. The young ducklings are highly independent, feeding on their own, and require little parental care.
  • For a species with such widely separated populations, it is perhaps surprising that the Barrow's Goldeneye shows little variation from place to place. Those breeding in North America are essentially identical on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Female Barrow's Goldeneyes breeding in Iceland do not get as extensively yellow bills as the North American birds, but have only a yellow or orangish band on the outer third of the otherwise dusky bill.
  • The oldest Barrow Goldeneye recorded was a male who was at least 15 years, 4 months old.



Breeds along lakes in parkland, especially alkaline lakes. Winters along rocky coasts.



Aquatic invertebrates and fish eggs, occasionally small fish and vegetation.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1–28 eggs
Egg Description
Glossy greenish.
Condition at Hatching
Covered with down, eyes open. Leave nest within two days after hatching.
Nest Description

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

Nest Placement



Surface Dive

Dives underwater to capture prey on bottom. Flocks often dive together.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

Barrow'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.


Range Map Help

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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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