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The American Wigeon's Habits and Other Facts

Updated on October 3, 2012
Male American Wigeon
Male American Wigeon | Source

Am I a Clever Duck?

The American Wigeon covers at some time during the year, all of the United States and the better part of Canada. A couple of common names for this duck is baldpate and poacher. The top of the male’s head has white feathers that contrast with the rest of its plumage, which suggests a bald head. Poacher comes into play, as the wigeon likes to take the wild celery from the other ducks in the area, as it doesn’t like to dive.

Source

Breeding Grounds and Courtship...

These ducks don’t pair up on their winter grounds(late November), arriving north on their breeding grounds in small flocks right around the end of May. As many as five or six males will court the same female, even though the ratio between sexes is half and half. It appears that some females are early breeders, and when the other females catch up, the spooning appears a lot more fair.

The males gather in the water and circle around their desired female, and their calls fill the air, which is similar to a “whew-whew-whew”. The males keep their wings folded and elevate their rears. Both sexes partially extend their wings and preen behind them.

The courting flight is very swift. The males twist and turn at high speeds, and he will race under, then up in front of the female to display, before dropping back again.

It is rare for these ducks to have any body contact between courting males. When the female has selected her mate, she follows him on the water, and they both engage in a head-bobbing ritual. Almost immediately after, the pair retires to wherever the male has selected as his home territory. He will defend this area against any other duck of the species, male or female, and sometimes no other duck at all is allowed.

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Eggs and Ducklings

The creamy white eggs of the clutch usually numbers between nine and eleven. The female alone incubates them. The ducklings go to the water as soon as their down is dry. They are a light yellow on the belly, and a brown-yellow on the face and breast. The feet and bill are gray-blue, and the top of the head, wings, back, and back of the neck are dark brown. If the young are disturbed or threatened, mother gives a diversion while the young escape. She will drag her wings, flop around, and splash about if she happens to be on the water. She flies away when the danger has passed or the young are hidden safely away.

Molting and Lack of Flight

The males eclipse once the female begins incubation, which means that he begins new feather growth. He’ll lose the old flight and bright head feathers. The males all tend to hang around together on a large body of water with plenty of vegetation for cover. The female goes into her molting period after the male, so she is flightless just before and after the young begin their flight adventures.

Male and Female American Wigeons
Male and Female American Wigeons | Source

Food

The baldpates eat mostly vegetable matter, but will partake in insects, crickets, leeches, small mollusks, insect larvae, and beetles. The young ones will eat more of non-vegetation than the adults.

Source

Natural Enemies and Other Negative Effects

The population is controlled by racoons, hawks, crows, coyote, fox, otter, mink, owls, hawks, and eagles. Disease, drought, parasites, accidents, and prairie fires are also contributing factors.

Source

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    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Oluwatoyin, where was this bird seen? What country and where?

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      Oluwatoyin 2 years ago

      I saw a bird the size of a duck on the lake with very white markings on the face and on the brseat and to the sides. The back of his body and head was very black. It dipped and dived into the water for food. The mate which swam near by was a less distinct brownish colour. Can you tell me what this is by my description?

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Jonatan You are most welcome, and I'm glad that you like the Wigeon.

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      Jonatan 2 years ago

      Wigeons do nest in the western half of Minnesota but I usaully only see them during migration here in the Twin Cities. Thanks for participating in this weeks Tuesday Tweets!

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      The wigeons didn't show up until fall, Hyphenbird, but who knows how long they might stay? My plans are to keep a list of when the birds show up and leave, plus the ones that come here each year. I hope that the ducks that you saw get there safely, too, but it does take a lot out of birds to migrate.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      They are so sweet! I knew practically nothing about the Wigeon. Even that name is adorable. Maybe you can get photos of the tiny ducklings next summer. Last week a flock of ducks took off and passed overhead honking loudly. I laughed and prayed they arrive safely at their destination.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, James. I'd love to see the Eurasian Wigeon, instead of just a picture.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Mhatter. I can't wait to see what pops up next.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Highland Terrier, yes, he sure is. Now there are two pair of them!

    • JKenny profile image

      James Kenny 4 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Interesting hub Deb. I've seen American wigeon at a place called Slimbridge in England. They look very similar to the Eurasian wigeon that come and spend the winter over here. Very well written. Voted up etc.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Well, this was interesting. Thank you.

    • Highland Terrier profile image

      Highland Terrier 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Another informative hub, well done. Loved the video. There a very attractive looking duck.

      Thank you.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      So true, Jen. Maybe they just aren't noticed enough?

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      You are most welcome, whonunuwho. I do so enjoy being with the birds.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, moonlake. They are great ducks.

    • jenb0128 profile image

      Jennifer Bridges 4 years ago from Michigan

      Wigeons! Great hub - you don't hear about these birds often enough.

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 4 years ago from United States

      Thank you aviannovice, for another informative and beautiful look at our feathered friends, the ducks.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      Beautiful birds. I love ducks. Great hub voted up.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      They are pretty sweet, and relatively quiet, at least in the cove.

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      Jeannie Dibble 4 years ago

      Love this little Wigeon Creature.

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