Dean M. Chriss
American Wigeon

American Wigeon

(Click image to enlarge)

This photograph shows a male American wigeon (Anas Americana). The female is mottled brown with a grayish head and whitish shoulder patches. Both sexes have pale blue bills with dark tips. American wigeons live in marshes, grassy areas, shallow lakes and ponds. They feed mainly on grasses, sedges and marine algae. American wigeons are often seen in the company of diving birds such as coots and canvasbacks. The wigeons wait at the surface while the other birds dive, and then snatch the food away when the divers reappear. These birds tend to be difficult photographic subjects because they are usually very skittish and seem almost hyperactive.

The spelling of the word "wigeon" caused us some concern. Some think it should be spelled "widgeon". As it turns out, there are many correct spellings, with the one we used being most popular. These include wygeon, wigion, wigen, wegyon, wegion, as well as wigeon. What’s more, no modern field guide uses widgeon.