Hello Vermont Birders:

I made a brief stop at 0930 at Shelburne Beach to scan Meach Cove. My
detour on the way home was well worth it. A hen Barrow's Goldeneye was a
bonus to my uncommon duck day.

While counting the raft of Common Goldeneye, a hen with a stubby bill
caught my eye. The smaller bill creates a pinched-face look in comparison
to Common Goldeneye, not unlike Hoary vs. Common Redpoll. She showed a
little more dull orange in the bill than the hen Common Goldeneyes but the
bill was not entirely orange.  Her head was broad/thick with a flat crown,
not bell curve shaped like a Common in some postures.

A first for me was noticing the head color difference. The overcast sky
provided the best light for evaluating colors. While I studied the bird, I
made a mental note that her head color was a colder, darker brown. The
female Common Goldeneyes around her were slightly warmer, richer in tone. I
hadn't ever noticed that before so I looked it up when I got home. The
Sibley guide has an arrow pointing to the nape labeled "darker brown." I
think he missed the color by a shade in his drawing but he does mention it.
I wonder if that will be one of the "corrections" in the second edition due
out this spring. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy!

Good birding,

Eric Hynes
Hinesburg, VT
Field Guides Birding Tours