Sunday Duck o’ The Week

Evolutionist John Avise has once again favored us with a Duck O’ the Week, designed to increase our knowledge about the wonderful species seen in North America. This one has a bit of a twist. Do you know the species?

Click below the fold to see the ID, John’s duck notes, and a range map.

The target duck is in the foreground; the one with the iridescent green on its head is a relative.

Click “read more” to get the ID and other information.

John’s notes:

This week’s duck is not native to North America, but vagrants appear here often enough to justify inclusion in our series.  Indeed, the Cornell site that you always use has a North American range map for this species.

Eurasian Wigeon (Mareca penelope)

Although this species is native to the Old World, vagrants (probably from Siberia or Iceland) not too infrequently show up at scattered North American locales during the winter, where they typically hang out with their close cousin: the American Wigeon, Anas americana (see last Sunday’s posting).  The two Wigeon species are also known to hybridize occasionally, producing viable hybrid ducks (see the sixth photo). Hens and juveniles of these two species can be hard to distinguish, but adult drakes in breeding condition have strikingly different head plumages (see the fourth photo).  I took the first six pictures in Southern California in the winter, the seventh in Northern Ireland in the summer.

A range map from the Cornell bird site:

 

4 Comments

  1. rickflick
    Posted July 19, 2020 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    The relative with the green on the head looks like an American wigeon, which is widely distributed and common across North America.

  2. Posted July 19, 2020 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Wow! Thanks, Prof. Avise. Your work is superb.

  3. Paul Matthews
    Posted July 20, 2020 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    I was wondering whether Eurasian Wigeon would make the cut. But it’s becoming more and more of a regular on this side of the pond. We seem to get one or two a year here in Ottawa, Canada (although I don’t recall any sightings this spring, but that may have been because covid stopped people from getting out birding).

    I always wonder where our birds are coming from and going to.

    I’m impressed at the excellent quality of the photos of what is still a rare bird in North America. It’s hard to get good photos here as the birds are almost always in some distant bay.


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