Common on the West coast but rare in the East, there are just 250 Barrow's goldeneyes in Maine. They spend their winters here, feeding in open waters near the coast, and summer in Arctic breeding grounds. Goldeneyes are monogamous, forming pair bonds that last for life; they also demonstrate what biologists call site fidelity, returning to the same place in winter and summer.
This group — six altogether, three male and three female — live for at least part of the year on a stretch of stream in eastern Maine. It makes me happy to think that, when temperatures drop below freezing, a deep sparkling cold, these beings are in their element. They hold steady in the current, diving and surfacing as a group, calling to one another and bobbing on waters resplendent with winter's reflected colors: blue sky, white snow, evergreen boughs and the glorious low golden sun.