Hey guys, welcome back! Today we dive back into the world of ducks. Well, more technically we’re dabbling in the world of ducks. The American wigeon is a dabbling duck with a compact frame, and small bill that it uses for snipping vegetation. The female is a warm brown with a dark smudgy area around the eye. The male is a grayer brown with a gray head, green stripe that starts at the eye and goes back, and a white crown.
They look most like the gadwall in terms of coloration, and will sometimes be found in with flocks of them. They can be picked out by their smaller size and light gray bill. There is also an Eurasian wigeon. They look very similar, especially the females. The male Eurasian wigeon has a chestnut brown head and buff colored crown, and lack the green eye stripe. Eurasians do wander over to America on occasion and American wigeons occasionally wander over to Europe. The two can, and often do hybridize as well. In fact, an Eurasian wigeon recently showed up in Ohio, only for it then to be determined to be a Eurasian/American hybrid.
I’ve only seen females up close as one or two would show up in Central Park most winters, often with gadwall in the Harlem Meer at the north end of the Park. Thus far, I’ve not seen any male wigeons close enough to obtain a picture. But even so, there are plenty of them around. I saw over a dozen just last week at the nearby Mentor Marsh. But they were pretty far out. With ducks, it’s good to get used to noticing patterns of light and dark, as this will often help you ID them at a distance. The white crown that the males have that I mentioned earlier? I shines almost like a headlight from a distance, making the American wigeon pretty easy to spot. Next up, a peculiar little marsh bird, the sora. See you then!