16 1/2-20" (42-51 cm). White crescent in front of eye on a glossy purple-black head; low, abrupt forehead sloping down to a black bill; back and sides black; neck and breast white; wings black with a line of white patches. Female has a brown head, grayish body and wings, white collar, and yellow bill with a dark tip.
Similar Species- Common Goldeneye
Rapid whinny produced by wings in flight.
Breeds from southeastern Alaska, east through parts of western Canada, and south to eastern Washington, southwestern Oregon, eastern California, northern Montana, and northwestern Wyoming. Also breeds in eastern Canada. Winters from southern Alaska, south along coast to central California, and locally from southern British Columbia and northern Montana, south to southwestern Arizona, Utah and Colorado. Also winters along East Coast.
Winters on lakes, rivers, estuaries, and bays. Frequently winters along Snake River in southern Idaho. In central Idaho, prefers mountain lakes for breeding.
In inland areas during summer and fall, feeds on aquatic insects, crustaceans and aquatic plants. Along coastal wintering grounds, feeds largely on crustaceans, mollusks, small fishes, and some plant material.
Nests in tree cavity near water; may nest on cliff. Intraspecific nest parasitism is common. Dives underwater to obtain food. Usually found in small, scattered groups in summer; found in large flocks in winter. Uncommon breeder in Idaho.
Schultz, G.A. 1978. Barrow's Goldeneyes nesting in central Idaho. Murrelet 59:107- 108.