Nature Notes

Vol. XIII June - 1935 No. 2

Barrow's Golden-eye

Barrow's Golden-Eye at Rainier

It was a pleasurable and interesting event, the recording of a family of this rare duck on Reflection Lake. This family of Barrow's Golden-eye (Glaucionetta islandica) consisted of the female and six young of the year, the drake, of course, being elsewhere, probably on salt water with others of his sex.

I saw them first on August 23 feeding quietly near the shore, but when disturbed they flew down the lake alighting with a glide and splash. Later they arose and came by me in swift flight, not in line, but bunched, fairly tearing through the air, surely a test that would carry them later to salt water, miles away. Two days afterward, they were on Lake Louise circling about in strong twisting flight, only to alight and in a second disappear beneath the surface, feeding.

Several years ago, it was my good fortune to observe three different broods of this interesting bird on Packwood Lake. It was on June 20 and the young ducks were then about ten days old, nine each in two families, and ten in the other. I remember one brood approaching a partially submerged log, the old duck leading. When reaching the log she at once dove under it, but the little ones hesitated then scrambled over the top to join her on the other side. Diving lessons, perhaps were being given!

Barrow's Golden-eye drakes are readily distinguished from the American Golden-eye (Glaucionetta clangula americana) by having an iridescent purplish head instead of the greenish of the latter bird, and by having a white crescent on the side of the head instead of the white round spot on the American. It is impossible to tell the females apart even at close range.

Golden-eyes choose a hole in a tree, usually a dead stub, as a nesting site. Their eggs of a pale cold green color nest in a thick layer of down from the female's breast. All incubation and care of the young is done by the mother bird.

In fall, all hands are off to the salt water, there to spend the winter in lazy contentment.

E. A. Kitchin.
E.C.W. Naturalist Asst.

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