Sunday’s Duck O’ the Week

Evolutionary biologist John Avise continues his series of North American ducks, designed to show you America’s ducks and educate you about the local diversity of this most fantastic of birds. Your job is to guess the duck species. The answer, some facts about the species, and a range map are below the fold.

The black birds are coots:

Click “read more” for the ID, more info, and a range map.

American Wigeon (Mareca americana)

This dabbling duck can be found in ponds and lakes continent-wide: nesting at high latitudes in summer, wintering at low latitudes in winter, or migrating between these two regions in spring and autumn. This species was formerly called the “Baldpate” because the drake’s white crown can make him look as if the top of his head is featherless. The drake also has a large white patch on the forewing, most noticeable in flight, and both sexes have a rather pointed tail.  Drakes characteristically issue slow, high-pitched “wolf-whistles”, whereas hens only utter grunts.  Wigeons eat mostly aquatic and terrestrial plants but supplement their diet with aquatic insect larvae and other invertebrate animals.

A range map from the Cornell site:



  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted July 12, 2020 at 7:58 am | Permalink


  2. rickflick
    Posted July 12, 2020 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    We’ve seen them often on the Snake River, Idaho, in Fall and Winter. They seem to be mixed in with coots here too.

  3. Posted July 12, 2020 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Another set of beautiful ducks! Thanks, John!

  4. Posted July 12, 2020 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    I see them often during Virginia winters as they flock together and whistle in mass. Occasionally I’ll see a single European Wigeon mixed in with a flock of fifty or more. Lovely photos as always.

    • john
      Posted July 12, 2020 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      Regarding the Eurasian Wigeon, stay tuned for next week’s post.

  5. Charles A Sawicki
    Posted July 14, 2020 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    We have these beautiful ducks in ND and MN. I’ve always wondered why Mallards make up such a large fraction of the duck population compared other ducks of similar size.

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