If The Lagoon Was Whisky

Pippa and I have been watching with fascinated delight the antics of a solitary diving duck among the innumerable dabbling mallards on Northwestern University’s campus lagoon. We haven’t agreed, however, on the precise identification of our unknown subject.

Diving Duck

The European Red-Crested Pochard bears a certain resemblance to our suspect, but since ours lacks the red bill, and since Evanston is not in Europe, we’re disposed to rule that one out. It could be a Redhead, though ours lacks the distinct black chest-grey torso coloration.Its golden eye might make you think it was a Goldeneye, but Goldeneyes seem to bear the characteristic white patch on their upper neck — but the immature Goldeneye, or perhaps a female, could resemble the perpetrator we’ve apprehended.

Diving Duck

Feedback from keener-eyed, more expert birders would be welcome.

Duck Diving


Mark’s mom says:

Maybe one of the Goldeneyes – common or Barrow’s – a female or immature adult?


Fr. Jeff says:

Greetings dear brother:
I hope all is well. I tried to comment on your blog, but even after I signed up it would not allow me to comment. [My comment function was temporarily turned off, as a brute-force spam prevention technique.] As one who enjoys fowl, and as an avid Duck hunter and watcher, I would say that the duck pictured is a female Common Goldeneye. I sent your link to a couple of my friends (one of whom is a wildlife biologist, and another who is the president of a local Ducks Unlimited chapter) and there seemed to be consensus. However, is the duck in question is immature (doubtful given the time of year), it could be misleading. . . .

He then followed up:

Dear Brother:
I misspoke I think. In my previous email, I commented that the bird in question was a Common Goldeneye…when I meant to say Barrow’s Goldeneye… (one other mark is the mottling of the feathers). If I did indeed misinform you, I apologize.
God bless.
Jeff

4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I’m a student at Garrett. I think I got some pictures of that exact same duck today, and after some googling I suspect it’s a ring-necked duck.

  2. It’s Dec 2010 on the Calif. Aquaduct, outside of Los Banos. I’ve been fishing here for the last week. Each day I have been greeted by the apparent family member of your posted friend. There were other ducks (6) similar in origin 100yds away that I viewed with binoculars. They couldn’t be approached, where this single guy was content with my presence……funny thing that it would come my way, each day and be content with feeding the entire day, each day, through stormy and sunny conditions. None of the folks in my circle of friends have seen such coloration of duck. Let me know if you recieve any more info. I sent more photos to Audibon without results. I’d be sending images but haven’t figured out how to attach…Argh!!!!

  3. Well, I was told to Google the “Common Goldeneye”. Click on Images, and there it was. A female Common GOLDENEYE that appears to be pretty darn close. At least closure than what others have suggested.

  4. After further observation of the Goldeneyes images. I have to agree with Fr. Jeff’s identification in that the bill of the Common is 60% dark toward the nostril with a gold to orangish tip. Where the Barrows has a mostly Golden bill.

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