These are active, strong-winged fliers moving singly or in small flocks, often high in the air. Distinctive wing-whistling sound in flight has earned the name of whistlers. Goldeneyes generally move south late in the season; most of them winter on coastal waters and the Great Lakes. Inland, they like rapids and fast water.
Barrow's goldeneye, predominantly a westerner, is less wary than the common goldeneye. Hens of both species are look-alikes. Drakes have a piercing speer-speer - hens a low quack. Both are usually quiet.