Photo: A male (left) and female Barrow’s Goldeneye.

Barrow’s Goldeneye Survey 2021

JANUARY 25, 2021 — Due to travel restrictions from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many snowbirds who would usually head south in search of warmer temperatures are staying home in New Brunswick this winter. They join the legion of literal “snow birds” who spend winter here every year, including the Barrow’s Goldeneye.

About the Barrow’s Goldeneye

Barrows Goldeneye Distribution Map

The Barrow’s Goldeneye – not to be confused with the Common Goldeneye, despite the physical similarities – are a unique species of sea bird that occurs in three distinct regions. About 200,000 breed in Western Canada and Alaska, migrating south and inland in the winter. A small non-migratory population of about 2,000 live year-round in Iceland. Finally, there is a population of about 7,000 that comes out of the boreal forests of eastern Quebec (and possibly Labrador) to over-winter along the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Baie des Chaleurs, and the Northumberland Strait. A few individuals over-winter along the Bay of Fundy with some even wandering south into New England.

Since the eastern population of Barrow’s Goldeneye is classified as a species of Special Concern by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada and their presence and movements in the province are not well-known, Nature NB has been monitoring these ducks for the last few years. Christmas Bird Count data, as well as observations by volunteers during January and March, are helping to understand how many of these ducks over-winter in New Brunswick and how they move about during the winter months.

Nature NB hopes to work with the Canadian Wildlife Service to ensure that the data that is collected is consistent with their standards and methodology.

Get Involved

Barrow's Goldeneye

If you’d like to participate in this citizen science initiative and help Nature NB survey the Barrow’s Goldeneye, we will be looking for volunteers to participate on the following dates:
– January 30, 2021 (January 31 in case of bad weather)
– March 27, 2021 (March 28 in case of bad weather)

Click here to sign up to volunteer!

Trouble loading the page? Click “Filter this list of Volunteer Opportunities” to expand the full page.


All COVID-19 protocols must be followed at all times while surveying in New Brunswick.

  1. Do not travel outside of your zone to participate in surveying.
  2. If areas where you would usually survey such as municipal parks are closed by order of the municipality, do not survey in that location.
  3. Surveying is permitted in zones which are in the Yellow, Orange, or Red phases of reopening. Zones experiencing lockdown (also known as the “Grey” phase or “Lockdown” phase) should not participate in surveying.
  4. Do not survey with individuals from outside of your household bubble.
  5. Have a mask with you at all times and put it on when physical distancing of 2m from other people in the area is not possible.
  6. For further guidance on COVID-19 restrictions in New Brunswick, visit gnb.ca/coronavirus

Barrow’s Goldeneye Identification

Environment Canada has created these infographics to help you tell the difference between the Barrow’s Goldeneye and its lookalike, the Common Goldeneye. 

Barrow vs Common
Barrow vs Common

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