This dabbling duck is considered to have ‘pizzazz’ which makes me think of the roaring 20s and the jazz scene. Their distinct beaks also remind me of black-white spectator shoes from the same time period, but now I’m just letting my imagination get carried away.
November’s bird of the month is the American Wigeon (Mareca americana)!!!!
American wigeons (20″ long, 32″ wing span, 1.6 lbs) have black tipped, off-white bills and both sexes sport them (hence spectator shoes). The males during breeding season also have a metallic green eye patch and white crown, which is why they earned the nickname ‘baldpate.’ They are also known to hybridize with Eurasian wigeons on occasion and steal food from other waterfowl*. Like many duck species, this bird is a winter migrant to Bolsa Chica and is often seen in flocks. These ducks mostly eat plant material and can be found in the shallows pecking at the vegetation, unless they are stealing food from other birds in the deeper water. During the winter listen for their unique whistle call of whew-whee-whew and their noisy quacking and you can be sure the American Wigeon is nearby.
Learn more about the Year of the Bird from: Audubon, BirdLife International, National Geographic, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Learn more about the Migratory Bird Treaty Act: The Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Explained
New to birding? Check out this beginner’s guide to birding!
Photos: Robin Hoyland
*Yet another reason I think of spectator shoes, because the shoe was associated with gangsters and unsavory silver-tongued men back in the day. Piqued your interest in this iconic shoe? Learn more here