Tuesday, November 29, 2011

American Wigeon

This photograph, another of my series of duck pairs, was taken on 17 March 2009 on Wells Lake near Fairibault, Minnesota. The ducks are American Wigeons, which we once identified as Baldpates. The spring male, with its white cap, is distinctive. Females and fall males are often best identified by their rusty-brown sides.

Wigeons breed further north--from the Bering Sea to Hudson Bay--than most other dabbling ducks. The breeding range dips down to western Minnesota and the Dakotas. Pairs form on their wintering grounds across the southern United States, Mexico and Central America. Males abandon their mates after the females are well into incubation, when the males retire to larger lakes to molt.

American Wigeon are mainly vegetarian. They often graze in agricultural areas. They are aggressive, opportunistic foragers. On the water these poor divers often associate with American Coots and diving ducks, robbing both of plants brought to the surface (Mowbray 1999).

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