On November 15th I spotted an interesting female Goldeneye at Miola Lake in Miami County near Paola Kansas. She had a bright orange billed, warmer colored brown head, steeper forehead, and a smaller (yet still fairly substantial) bill. I did not observe her in flight to get a picture of the number of secondary white feathers but my initial impression was female Barrow's Goldeneye. This is a bird that I look for each winter among the large flocks of Common Goldeneye. In the past decade I have found almost a 3 to 1 ratio of orange-billed Common to Barrow's in my endeavors.
I was scouting quickly for a Burroughs field trip and wasn't prepared to take photos. As such the birds are quite distant from when I first saw them with binoculars and the photos are blurry from the lens not liking the temperature change. The bird of interest is the middle bird in the photo montage of three different birds swimming away.
I sent a text to a few people close-by but no one was able to refind the bird on the small lake. Kathy C found an orange-billed Common Goldeneye and I seriously questioned my ID capabilities and possible explanations when I looked at her photo.
Fortunately, when I transferred photos from my camera to the computer today I saw there were two orange-billed female goldeneyes in the flock. Unfortunately neither was there during the Burroughs field trip yesterday. These two birds seem to represent the extremes of the orange-billed Goldeneye's and, in my opinion, represent both species fairly well.
For anyone interested, here are a couple of resources to look at in separating the two female Goldeneye species.