In it's natural habitat, Barrows feed on pondweed, water insects, crayfish, and other crustaceans. Approximately 75% of their diet is thought to be animal matter. In captivity they will need extra protein, such as catfish or trout pellets, added to their feed.
Barrows are cavity nesters and will need a raised wood duck style box for nesting. Wild Barrows would nest in cavities of decaying trees, in the absence of trees nest may be placed in a rocky crevice, hole in a stream bank, or other shelter.
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Barrows Goldeneye are primarily a duck of the western mountains of North America, however there are also smaller populations in the Labrador Peninsula and Western Greenland. The Drakes have a purple-black head and a white face crescent, which distinguishes it from the common goldeneye which has a more greenish head and white spot by the bill that is less crescent like.
Female Barrows look very familiar to Common females, with the main difference being the bill of the Barrows is more yellow-orange in color, the bill of the common is often only yellow-orange at the tip.
Many Barrows do not breed until their second or even third spring. Males exhibit complex, showy courtship displays, and may become aggressive during the breeding season. (See picture above of a courtship display.) Barrows will often take over an entire pond during the breeding seaon, if kept in a mixed collection it is best to have more than one pond, or a very large pond with some natural barriers so other breeding birds may not be disrupted.
Clutches consist of 6-10 pale green eggs. Incubation last 29-30 days.The young are fully feathered in about 8 weeks. As with many of the diving duck group, the young can be challenging to rear.
Because of the special housing and diet needs of this species, along with the difficultly of the young to raise, and the fact that they do not breed until 2 years of year, and also thier aggression during mating season, this is not a species that we would reccomend for the beginner.