Barrow's goldeneye: know how to recognize it
Warning to Hunters
The Barrow's Goldeneye looks a lot like its close relative the Common Goldeneye. These two ducks gather in Quebec, and it's important to differentiate between the two, because the Barrow's Goldeneye is "at risk" whereas the Common Goldeneye is not.
There are about 6 000 Barrow's Goldeneyes (which corresponds to 1 800 breeding pairs) in all of eastern North America. The overwhelming majority flock to Quebec - on lakes of the boreal forest in the nesting season and along the shores of the Estuary and the Gulf of St. Lawrence during the winter.
In comparison, the Common Goldeneye can be found everywhere in Quebec and throughout eastern Canada, and Quebec's boreal forest alone shelters at least 60 000 pairs. The Common Goldeneye is also found in large numbers along the St. Lawrence River during the winter.
Goldeneyes are diving ducks with a rapid wing beat that emits a characteristic whistling sound. The Barrow's Goldeneye adult male is distinguished from that of the Common Goldeneye by its darker upperparts, a black spur (patch) along its side and a white crescent on its face. The females are more difficult to tell apart, but can be recognized starting with the colour and shape of the bill and head.
Where and when to observe them?
It's quite easy to observe the Common Goldeneye in the spring (mid-March to mid-May) and in the fall (mid-October to the end of November), when a good number of individuals gather in southern Quebec, in particular along the St. Lawrence River.
As for the Barrow's Goldeneye, it can be observed along the shores of the St. Lawrence near Charlevoix (e.g. La Malbaie, Baie-des-Rochers and Baie-Sainte-Catherine), the Quebec North Shore (e.g. Baie-Comeau), the Bas-Saint-Laurent (Lower St. Lawrence; e.g. Saint-Fabien-sur-Mer and Métis-sur-Mer) and the Gaspé Peninsula (e.g. Pointe-Saint-Pierre, baie des Chaleurs). It can be seen in all these areas from the end of October to the end of April.
Important warning to Quebec and Atlantic hunters
Hunters who go duck-hunting near the shores of the Estuary or Gulf of St. Lawrence as well as on boreal forest lakes are likely to bag goldeneyes.
Here is information on the daily bag, possession limit and hunting season dates for the Barrow's Goldeneye
You will find legal measures in provinces and territories on the Regulations Summaries web site. You may select the appropriate province or territory.
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