American Wigeon: Dr J Murray Speirs

American wigeon (male)

I rather like the old name, Baldpate, although the pate (top of the head) is not really bald, but white or whitish, as in the Bald Eagle. My most vivid memory of these sprightly ducks is of the flocks that gathered in Hamilton Bay in early spring, often among the groups of “Whistling Swans” but that it was the Baldpates that were whistling not the swans.

American wigeon

Look for the white, or cream-coloured, crown of the males above the dark green sides of the head. In the rare European Wigeon the whole head is red. The female is best distinguished by her vinaceous (wine-coloured) sides. The whistling voice of the male “whee’whee’whee” should alert the observer to look for Baldpates. The big white wing-patches in flight are also suggestive of this species.

American Wigeon

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