A rare Barrow's goldeneye duck appeared Thursday on the Fox River in West Dundee, and it was soon followed by excited bird-watchers who were drawn to the site by social media.
"We drove more than 30 miles just to see him," said Sheilah Watson of Lake Zurich. "Isn't he amazing?"
The purple/blue-headed duck with large, unblinking gold eyes is native to the northwest United States and Canada and is rarely sighted in the Midwest, according to Charles Specht of Mundelein.
"In my 60 years of birding, I've never seen one," he said as he trained his binoculars on the striking features of the water foul.
Specht said he and Watson were alerted to the sighting through social media.
"We birders are a tight group," he explained. "When somebody sees something like this, pretty soon everybody will come to see it."
Randall Wade of Chicago stood with them on the west shore of the Fox River with his 500 mm telephoto lens and Nikon camera on a tripod. Others stopped on the east and west sides of the river to watch as the duck dove for food and stayed under for half a minute before reappearing.
The green-headed common goldeneye can be found on the Fox River throughout the year.