Monday, April 18, 2011

At the pond... American Wigeon

American WigeonAmerican Wigeon, drake front, hen rear, Beaverton, Oregon, 2 February 2011 by Greg Gillson.


This duck is second only to Mallard in population of migrant and winter ducks in the Pacific Northwest.

It also breeds in smaller numbers here, primarily east of the Cascades. Otherwise, it is a widespread breeder from Alaska, across Canada, and into the prairie states.

Unlike most other dabbling ducks, wigeon are grazers, feeding on tender grass shoots. Thus, you can find them grazing in city parks with ponds and lawns, as in the photo above.


American WigeonDrake American Wigeon, Beaverton, Oregon, 2 February 2011 by Greg Gillson.


There is an iridescent greenish patch of feathers around and back from the eye. The amount of dark freckling on the face of drake American Wigeons varies greatly. Some birds have mostly white or cream-colored heads. Others have fairly dark faces with a cream crown.

The voice of drake American Wigeons is a distinctive 3-part wheezy-whistled call: zwe-ZWEEE-zew. Hens utter a quiet "quack."