Sunday, November 14, 2010

Autumn Feathers: American Wigeon

When I first got into birding, the American Wigeon really impressed me.  I thought it was such a cool looking bird and it made funny sounds.  Then I discovered how abundant in winter these waterfowl are and I noted them for eBird, looked thru their flocks for Eurasian Wigeons, and largely ignored the American Wigeons.  Now that I am adding bird photography to my pasttime I am taking a second deeper and longer look at even the common and abundant birds.  Here are photos from a few Eagle, Idaho neighborhood ponds while I enjoyed observing Wigeon behavior.

Male - buffy forehead, dark green eye/head stripe, smooth color pattern on body.
Juvenile - slightly patterned flanks and dark feathers on upper parts
Males and females in the foreground foraging in the grass - a common sight.  Note how the adult female's flanks are more solid than the juvenile.  The grey-brown head lacks any trace of a future green head stripe.

After nibbling on grass, they move as a flock into the water and all take a sip...well, they can't actually sip or suck, so they get water in their bills and then tip their heads back to swallow as shown here.
Preening - I thought the fluffed-up feathers that are normally concealed looked kind of wren-pattern-like.

Grass foraging - I have seen flocks numbering 1000 birds in Boise area parks.

A handsome male American Wigeon among the autumn leaves.


  1. I love Widgeon, both the American and Eurasian. One of my favorite things about them you didn't mention is their contrasting blue beak. Very handsome birds. Your last shot of the drake is beautiful, especially with the leaves.

  2. They are beautiful looking birds and I like all the detailed photos of plumage. The last photo with the leaves is especially nice.

  3. ...I saw Widgeons today, but wasn't close enough to get photos like yours. These are gorgeous. The last a true stunner. He is a handsome duck.

  4. HI,
    Excellent picture and blog you got there. We do occasionally get American wigeon over here, but the most common one is the Eurasian one!

  5. They usually show up in droves in AZ but I won't be there to see and record them there this year! I saw some on Plum Island when I was there but not nearly as many as you saw!

  6. hhm, they look a bit different from ours. You got some great shots. I never managed to get that close to them.

  7. We have lot of widgeons here but they're so skittish I've never gotten this close for a photo. Beautiful shots! I love the little peeping sound they make.


  8. Wow! Those are great pictures. Impossible to get close to Eurasian Wigeon like that. And yes Robert, we do sometimes get an American Wigeon in amongst the flocks of Eurasian Wigeon bu they occur only rarely.