Image: Collin M Jensen, 25 April 2008 [larger view].
Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.
Rick Wright, Managing Director of WINGS Birding Tours Worldwide, writes:
A brown duck. The fact that the plumage comprises solid blocks of color rather than complex patterns makes this a diving duck, and the largely white sides and breast should make us think of one of the “sea ducks.” Scoters are darker, eiders more finely patterned, but this looks just right for a young male goldeneye.
The large, rather eider-like bill is enough, it seems to me, to identify this as a Common Goldeneye, but there’s another mark that clinches the identification. The scapulars — the long feathers of the “shoulder” extending down over the folded wing — are coming in with long white stripes, quite different from the corresponding feathers in Barrow’s Goldeneye, which are black with neat white squares. The head shape, too, with a steep forehead and flat crown, is different from the high-peaked triangle of Barrow’s Goldeneye.
Goldeneye identification is not as easy as I used to think, and the diagnosis of any given individual can be complicated by the promiscuity of both goldeneyes, Bufflehead, and Hooded Merganser. But I’d happily call this bird a Common Goldeneye if I saw it in the field.
Review all mystery birds to date.