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A thorough discussion by Sibley of the distinctions between the two 
species females, and the exceptions, is at:

http://www.sibleyguides.com/2010/01/distinguishing-female-barrows-and-common-goldeneyes/

Spencer Hardy and I spent some quality time applying several of the 
features in the Sibley article (no, we didn't have it in our hands) to a 
hen Barrow's with a group of female Commons just this morning in the 
mists and fog in Addison.  We agreed that it takes multiple features to 
secure ID's.

Ian
==================
On 1/14/2014 10:26 AM, Eric Hynes wrote:
> 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
>
> .....................
> Eric Hynes
> Hinesburg, VT
> ---------------------
> Field Guides Birding Tours
> www.fieldguides.com
> http://fieldguides.com/guides/eric-hynes