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Happy New Year! We’ve finished with my year-end countdown and it’s time to move on to new material. I never stopped taking pictures during the nearly two weeks that I posted my countdown, so I have a fair number of new and hopefully interesting photos to post.
Tonight’s images are of American Wigeons. These little dabbling ducks (dabbling ducks feed on the surface of water whereas diving ducks dive) are extraordinarily attractive. They are winter residents in the Tucson area, spending their summers in the northern third of the United States and in Canada. In most years I would expect to see large numbers of these ducks at locations like Sweetwater Wetlands. Not so, this year, they have been strangely absent. However, and to my surprise, I found a flock of at least 100 of these birds swimming in a tiny pond of less than two acres in a local park. Go figure.
The males are easily identified by the green “swoosh” on the sides of their heads. It looks like an inverted Nike logo and it becomes iridescent in the right light.
The males’ breeding colors include a snow white forehead. One of the more attractive features of this small duck is its blue-gray beak. Wigeons are not very big as ducks go. This male is about 2/3 the size of a Mallard.
In many species of ducks females are much drabber than the males. I don’t find that to be the case with American Wigeons. The females lack the iridescent green “swoosh” of the males, but they are nonetheless beautiful in their own right.
One of the endearing things about wigeons is that they don’t quack. Instead, they emit a high-pitched squeaking sound that is a little reminiscent of the noise that children’s plush toys emit when they are squeezed. It can be quite a symphony when a few dozen of these little ducks are squeaking all at once.
Images made with a Canon 5Diii, 400 DO, aperture controlled setting, ISO 640. The first image made at f4.5 @ 1/1250, the second at f4.5 @ 1/1600.