Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Autumn Feathers - Eurasian Wigeon

Which one of these things is not like the other
Mark Johnston and his family in Eagle, Idaho have become avid birders in the last couple years...and eBirders at that!  I'm so proud of you guys!  He says they like to see how they compare to other eBirders with the numbers of species and checklists in certain Idaho counties.  The kids seem to enjoy that unspoken competition and it keeps them birding regularly!  I met the Johnston family when they attended a couple a Avimor Bird Walks I hosted and then I happened to see Mark again recently on the airplane.  I was delighted when he e-mailed me the other day to tell me that they had seen a Eurasian Wigeon in the pond near their home along with the American Wigeons.

Eurasian Wigeons are sporadic visitors from the old world to North America.  One or two seem to show up each winter in the Boise area.  It's weird, but I think it is fun to glass thru large flocks of American Wigeons looking for "the red-headed one".

Autumn leaves reflected on the water

eBird Eurasian Wigeon sightings map

I am fairly certain that this Eurasian Wigeon is in fact a hybrid with an American Wigeon based on the trace of green at the back of the eye as well as the amount of brown in the flanks.  Hybrids of this sort can be variable.  I wonder if this might be a second generation hybrid (three Eurasian grandparents to one American??? Or do Eurasians have more dominant genes?)


  1. Cool! I've never seen one in person (that I know of)

  2. Nice post! My husband is an ebird Fanatic! I even have an ebird bumper sticker, ha!

  3. Great shot - wonderful bird to catch! well done... your site is fabulous by the way.

  4. Not a hybrid--not visibly, at least. Eurasian Wigeon often (even usually, if you look hard enough) have a green head stripe, and a bit of brown on the flank is expected this time of year, too.
    Of course, we'll never know what's floating around on the bird's chromosomes.
    Great photos!

  5. Thanks for the comments everyone. Rick, thanks for the note too. I have much more to learn about Eurasian Wigeons.

  6. Enjoy reading your blog! Very informative with lovely pictures!

  7. I have heard that an occasional Eurasian Wigeon is around Boise, ID this time of year and I always keep my eyes peeled but I've never seen one. What pond is this one hanging out around? :)

  8. Ryck,

    This Eurasian Wigeon was seen in the Lexington Hills ponds off of Floating Feather Rd, just west of Hwy 55. I usually see a Eurasion W among the American W's at the Boise Optimist Youth Sport Complex on Hill Rd. as well as at Ann Morrison Park.

  9. Great post on the Eurasian Wigeon Robert. I love seeing these guys mixed in with the American Wigeons. It's like finding a Barrow's Goldeneye in with the Commons. That close up of the male is gorgeous.