Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Eurasian Wigeon at Lake Hodges

Eurasian Wigeon
Eurasian Wigeon. Lake Hodges, California. December 14, 2014. Greg Gillson.
The Eurasian Wigeon replaces the American Wigeon as a common duck in Europe and Asia. Some of the Arctic Asian breeding Eurasian Wigeons, however, migrate south via Alaska to winter along the West Coast of North America. Likewise, a smaller number of European breeders make their way via Greenland to winter along the Atlantic coasts of North America.

In San Diego the Eurasian Wigeon is a rare bird, but not overly so. It averages up to about 10 reports per year. I actually saw one in January, so this is my second of the year. Both birds I had heard about in advance. This bird, however, was only reported once, in late November, without any follow up. So I decided to see if it was still around.

For identification comparison, here is a recent photo of American Wigeons at Woodland Park in San Marcos.

American Wigeon
American Wigeon. San Marco, California. November 27, 2014. Greg Gillson.
Wigeons usually occur in large flocks consisting of bright adult males and duller immature males and brown females. Rather than concentrating on finding that cinnamon head of Eurasian Wigeon in all those many gray and brown-headed ducks, it is easier to scan for the pale gray sides among all the pinkish-sided American Wigeons.

Eurasian Wigeon
Eurasian Wigeon. Lake Hodges, California. December 14, 2014. Greg Gillson.
Don't make this ID mistake, though! The duck below is Green-winged Teal. It is smaller than a wigeon, but has gray sides and chestnut head. I've seen beginners misidentify the abundant teal as the rare wigeon.

Green-winged Teal
Green-winged Teal. Hillsboro, Oregon. February 16, 2009. Greg Gillson.