Random Waterfowl

Here are some random shots of some of the many waterfowl species that winter in the Willamette Valley

This Common Merganser was swimming with her face submerged, looking for fish. I have also seen loons hunt in this way.

the same bird preening

Here she finally shows her face. The clearly demarcated white chin helps to differentiate this species from the similar Red-breasted Merganser.

This female Eurasian Wigeon is recognized by her brown head. Notice the female American Wigeon on the right with her gray head.

Here is a distant shot of a mixed flock of waterfowl (click to enlarge). From left to right, you can see Ring-necked Duck, Canvasback, Cackling Goose, American Coot, and American Wigeon.

Wigeon ID

I combed the wigeon flocks at Portland’s Westmoreland Park and found examples of both species.

The bird in front is a male Eurasian Wigeon; the two in back are male American Wigeons. On the Eurasian, note the rusty head with the blond crown and the clear demarcation between the rose breast and gray sides.
another shot of the male Eurasian

The female Eurasian Wigeon has a warm brown head that blends in with the breast. The markings on the head are diminshed in the throat area.

Here’s the female Eurasian Wigeon with the male in the background.

On a female American Wigeon, the gray head contrasts with the brown breast. The head markings remain bold in the throat area.

On some male American Wigeons, the cream color of the crown extends over much of the face.

The bird in back is a typical male American Wigeon. The bird in front is a hybrid American X Eurasian Wigeon. The hybrid shows the rusty head coloring of a Eurasian with the green eye-stripe of an American. The bird’s sides show both rose and gray.

The same hybrid, showing an even blending of characteristics from both species.

Winter is setting in.

With the onset of cooler temperatures and short days, a birder’s attentions are drawn to the avian stars of the Willamette Valley in winter, waterfowl and gulls. Yes, there are sparrows about, and the American Goldfinches are emptying my feeders on a daily basis. But I really enjoy the cacophony of a few thousand Cackling Geese and the challenging genetic soup that makes up the gulls of the West Coast.

American and Eurasian Wigeons

Cackling Geese

Thayer’s Gull