Male American Wigeon at Carr Park in Huntington Beach
You will find American Wigeons in parks among the Mallards and American Coot, and in the wilder areas. You will hear them whistle out in the lakes and sometimes on the grass.
Stretching for a bit of vegetation down the channel at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.
It is a dabbling duck, but also loves to graze on vegetation on dry land. Basically, it loves its veggies more than other ducks. You will find it grazing on lawns with Mallards and American Coot. It also eats seeds and insects in the lawns and grasses and on the water.
Female American Wigeon
At this time of year you can find Wigeons in Orange County at parks with ponds and lawns like Carr Park, both sides of Huntington Central Park, Mile Square Park, Tewinkle Park, and many others. You can also find them at wetlands and marshes like the San Joaquin Marsh, The San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, Newport Back Bay, and others. And at rivers like the Santa Ana River, and other rivers, streams, and canals.
Mallards quack, Wigeons whistle at Huntington Central Park West.
They do tend to mix in with other ducks at parks--especially Mallards and aren't above being seen with American Coots. You will see them feeding on the lawn and pan handling from people feeding the ducks.
Note the buffy stripe on the crown.
A male American Wigeon with a white cheek at Carr Park. An infrequent variation.
There is a lot of variation in American Wigeons that is subtle. There are American Wigeons with white cheeks or with buffy-colored stripes on their crowns. Don't let it throw you.
Notice that this American Wigeon has a buffy or cream coloring to the head stripe.
The point is that as birders observe more what a birds looks like from many different angles, the easier it is to recognize it. There are sometimes variations in plumage. There are male and female plumages, and eclipse or non-breeding plumage. It doesn't always look like the book.
American Wigeons grazing on the lawn at Tewinkle Park
Eurasian Wigeon at Huntington Central Park .
On occasion, you will find a rare bird tucked in among the American Wigeons on a pond, lake, or lawn. The closely related Eurasian Wigeon has been popping up more frequently in Orange County. It has a cinnamon head, a buffy center stripe and similar body markings. Check out the crowd of American Wigeons carefully next time you are birding in Orange County. The male Eurasian Wigeon is unmistakable.
Up Winterburg Channel at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.
American Wigeon from Cornell's All About Birds
Compare with the Eurasian Wigeon profile from Cornell--notice the picture of the Eurasian Wigeon is from Orange County, CA.
Animal Diversity Web from Michigan University: American Wigeon
Animal Diversity Web's very detailed web page on the American Wigeon. The University of Michigan has lots of good information on the ADW.
US Geological Survey's American Wigeon Page
Short page about American Wigeons
USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Page on Migrating Waterfowl
Their page on the American Wigeon. Lots of great illustrations.
Telling an American Wigeon and a Eurasian Wigeon Apart
Friends of Greenlake (Washington): American and Eurasian Wigeons
Discussion of American and Eurasian Wigeons and pictures of both and a hybrid Wigeon.
Eurasian and American Wigeon Hybrids
Picture and short paragraph on Wigeon hybrids. From Arizona Field Ornithologists. Also see this picture of an American-Eurasian Wigeon hybrid. Also see their comparison of American and Eurasian Wigeons.
Identification of Wigeons from the ABA
Article with pictures, illustrations, and text about American and Eurasian Wigeons in many plumages.
From Birdinfo.com: Eurasian and American Wigeons
Picture of male Eurasian and male American Wigeons. See also this picture of a hybrid.
Internet Bird Collection: American Wigeon
Videos of American Wigeons.
Confusing Domestic Ducks from Cornell
Sorts out some confusing plumages.