A small flock of American Wigeons, maybe twelve birds strong, has been keeping busy near the Schoolhouse Creek outfall in the southeast corner of the North Basin cove. I first saw them on Solstice, December 21.
American Wigeons arrived on the North Basin in large numbers last winter. They somehow managed to harness the American Coot population into diving for vegetable matter and surrendering it to the Wigeons, who can only dabble.
The Wigeons are the most vegetarian of dabbling ducks. While Mallards will go for snails and other protein of opportunity, Wigeons generally won’t. They have shorter, stronger bills and can tear off vegetable matter that defies other dabbling ducks.
This year the Wigeons arrived here two weeks later than last year, and their numbers so far are much reduced. I also haven’t noticed any interaction between them and the much more numerous Coots, so far.
In the video, do you see the Mallard male that paddles past the Wigeons at one point? The Mallard male has its whole head and neck iridescent green. The American Wigeon male has an iridescent green wash on the side of its head. The top of its head is white.