HYBRID GOLDENEYE AT MERRITT, B.C.

Wayne C. Weber contopus at shaw.ca
Mon Mar 18 13:17:28 PST 2002




Birders,

Yesterday, March 17, I observed a hybrid male BARROW'S X COMMON
GOLDENEYE in the Nicola River at Merritt, B.C. The hybrid was in the
river close to a bridge on Voght Street, only about 2 blocks north of
the centre of Merritt. It was seen less than 10 metres away, and was
in close company with 2 COMMON GOLDENEYES, 3 BARROW'S GOLDENEYES, and
a pair of COMMON MERGANSERS.

The hybrid goldeneye had a head shape intermediate between the two
species (forehead not as sharp as in Barrow's, not as rounded as in
Common). In bright sunshine, it showed both purplish and greenish
iridescence on the head. The white spot in front of the bill was
teardrop-shaped, again halfway between the circular white spot of the
Common and crescent-shaped white mark of the Barrow's. The wing
coverts looked closer to those of a Common Goldeneye, with a little
more black, but not nearly as much black as in 2 nearby male Barrow's.

This is a rather rare waterfowl hybrid, although I have seen them a
few times previously. Intriguingly, one of my previous sightings was a
bird almost identical in appearance, seen almost exactly 2 years ago
(March 19, 2000) in almost the same locality (on the Nicola River
about 3 km west of Merritt). I strongly suspect that this was the same
goldeneye, which I happened to find on its spring migration 2 years
out of 3! Birds, like people, can be creatures of habit.

Hybrid goldeneyes are scarce enough in the wild that all sightings
are
worth reporting. I don't know if there is someone systematically
keeping track of this and other hybrid ducks seen in the wild in North
America, but if so, I'd be interested in contacting any such
person(s).

Wayne C. Weber
114-525 Dalgleish Drive
Kamloops, BC V2C 6E4
Phone: (250) 377-8865
contopus at shaw.ca





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