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Lowell Ponds New Gentrifier: The American Wigeon

October 17, 2016
American Wigeons, Lowell Ponds, October 17, 2016

American Wigeons, Lowell Ponds, October 17, 2016

October 17, 2016

Today there was a different mix on Lowell’s Pond.

While a fair number of ringneck ducks and Canadian geese were still present feeding nonstop, gone are yesterdays dramatic buffleheads, today nowhere to be seen. On the other hand, yesterday no redheads to be seen, while today a good dozen, male and female were floating back and forth across the pond, again, keeping their distance from me and swimming on the far side (east) from where I was standing. But that was not all, there were some new neighborhood gentrifiers replacing yesterday’s buffleheads, a sizable number (about a dozen) American wigeons.

It is possible that this group of wigeons arrived from further north as they spend the warmer months from northern Alaska to Montana venturing down to Colorado and points further south as the colder weather approaches.  They are relatively easy to identify; note these two males with  white strips extending from their beaks through the center of their heads past the eyes. Starting at the inner end of both eyes a smaller greenish strip curves backwards over the back of their necks. The beaks are white with a dark tip (hard to see on my photo, but clearly noticeable with binoculars.

Kaufman (Field Guide To Birds of North America – 2000 edition) notes that American wigeons are common (and increasingly abundant), especially in the west with flocks often grazing on land near ponds. They are known to steal food from coots or diving ducks when the latter surface. Once known as “baldpates” because of the white crown on its head, since the 1930s the American wigeon has increasingly extended its range eastward, including the northeastern states.

Not considered threatened, In 2009, an estimated 2.5 million breeding wigeon were tallied in the traditional survey area—a level just below the 1955–2009 average. In recent decades, wigeon numbers have declined in the prairie-parkland region of Canada and increased in the interior and west coast of Alaska. The American wigeon is often the fifth most commonly harvested duck in the United States, behind the mallard, green-winged teal, gadwall, and wood duck

Rednecks at Lowell Ponds

Rednecks at Lowell Ponds

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarge Cheever permalink
    October 18, 2016 11:06 am

    Robbie–You’re a birder! Congratulations. Sarge

    • October 18, 2016 11:39 am

      Actually Sarge, I know very little about birds, even less about ducks…so I decided to fill in yet another gap in my education…

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