EURASIAN WIGEON - Fall/Winter Rarity Finding in Chicago : Journal #2

The Eurasian Wigeon is a dabbling duck from the Old World that has begun to make itself home in numbers on the Pacific coast and most of the Atlantic Coast as well. In Eurasia where they are the most common, you will find dozens or even hundreds on small lakes and ponds during waterfowl migration.
The Eurasian Wigeon adult male (Ad. M.) in breeding plumage (which will be in the fall through the spring as some waterfowl breed in the winter or early spring) will be very easy to pick out in flocks or rafts of sitting ducks. Immediately, the most visible field mark is the bright coppery head with an even brighter yellowish forehead and crown stripe. The American Wigeons we have here have a dull green head with a white crown stripe.
The Ad. M. Eurasian Wigeon will also be overall brighter gray compared to most of our dabbling ducks. Even at a distance an Ad. M. Eurasian Wigeon will appear to be nearly white bodied compared to our more buffy or brownish-pink bodied American Wigeons.Ad. M. Eurasian Wigeons will have a buffy-orange breast though.
An Ad. M. nonbreeding plumage Eurasian Wigeon will look nearly entirely coppery overall compared to the duller buffy with a dark head of the American Wigeon. Finding a Eurasian Wigeon in this plumage will be far less likely than finding one in breeding plumage though.
An adult female Eurasian Wigeon (Ad. F.) will average grayer and somewhat less patterned than an Ad. F. American Wigeon. An Ad. F. Eurasian Wigeon will have a buffier or warmer brown head coloration rather than the dull gray-brown head of an Ad. F. American Wigeon.
An Ad. F. Eurasian Wigeon will lack a very thin black border around the gape which an Ad. F. American Wigeon has.
An Ad. F. Eurasian Wigeon will also likely have gray outer-tail feathers, which can sometimes be difficult to differentiate from the buffier outer-tail feathers of an Ad. F. American Wigeon.
In flight, the Eurasian wigeon will have no white on the secondary coverts and a completely gray underwing rather than the white strip on the secondary coverts and white axilleries and center of the wing on the American Wigeon. Eurasian Wigeons may also appear to have more of a "pin-tail" than the American Wigeon.
As far as the hybrids go, field marks to look for an include a small amount of bright green on an Ad. M. in breeding plumage Eurasian Wigeon's head, more buffy coloration on the body overall, or even a buffier face with a more dark coppery coloration.
Eurasian Wigeons will likely associate with American Wigeons, Gadwall, Mallards and pretty much any other flocks of dabbling ducks.

BEST MONTH TO FIND ONE - April, September-November
WHERE TO FIND ONE - Inland, small lakes and ponds in the Palos forest preserve area, small lakes and ponds in the Calumet area, small lakes and ponds in the NW and NE suburbs.
IDEAL CONDITIONS TO FIND ONE - Strong winds from the upper East coast, or even winds from overseas in Eurasia can cause one to land on lakes and ponds around in the Chicago area. In the time ranges mentioned above, if you pass by a small lake or pond in the areas I mentioned above, stop to scan through all of the ducks to to to spot one. Looking in the hard to access, back corners of ponds and lakes can be very rewarding.

My own iNat observation for a photo of how you might find one on a pond -
eBird link for more detailed photos -

Eurasian Wigeon is a species known to sometimes hybridize with our extremely common American Wigeon, and the hybrids can sometimes be difficult to pick out.

Posted on Δεκέμβριος 24, 2020 0335 ΜΜ by brdnrdr brdnrdr


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