Friday, March 13, 2009

On wigeons.

According to Campbell et al. (1990): "Most large coastal winter flocks of American Wigeon contain at least one Eurasian Wigeon."

Spot the EUWI.

Today Terra Nova was lousy with American Wigeons. In the water, dropping from the sky, on the grass...constantly making their weird squeak-toy call. I hardly ever look at wigeons anymore, but today, one in our party asked the magic question, "What's the one with the rust-coloured head?"

"Where?" We spent a spell scanning a flock on the far bank of the nouveux slough. One by one we spotted it, a sparkly male EUWI among the AMWIs.

Contact. (Eurasian Wigeon on the right.)

Regarding the occurrence of Eurasian Wigeons in south coastal BC: "The Eurasian Wigeon is most often found within larger flocks of American Wigeon and therefore frequents similar habitats. On the coast, those habitats include uplands with short grass such as flooded fields, fallow fields, parks, golf courses, and airports" (Campbell et al., 1990) . Pretty much a bulls-eye description of Terra Nova.

The glut of wigeons has not gone unnoticed by the local Bald Eagle population, which itself is approaching glut status. I came across this spot (above) which seems to represent the pluckage of several American Wigeons. There were other spots, too, though not as fluffy. Soon such scenes will become scarce, for the numbers of wigeons at Terra Nova are due to decline. These squeak-voiced ducks will head off to breed, many in the interior of the province.

Wigeon feathers, close up.

This should happen soon, as indicated by another sighting today--and of great significance: The first Violet-green Swallows of the year!! At least six. It's spring. The temperature is rising, and rain is on the way.

Campbell, R.W., N.K. Dawe, I. McTaggart-Cowan, J.M. Cooper, G.W. Kaiser and M.C.E.McNall. 1990. The Birds of British Columbia. Vol. 1. UBC Press.


swamp4me said...

Wigeons we have here, violet-green swallows, we do not. Very pretty bird. Thanks for the link.

PSYL said...

Darn, I didn't see the EUWI nor the swallows today. Guess I need to pay more attention to a flock of wigeons. Thanks for the information.

Hugh said...

PSYL, the E. Wigeon was with a flock at the north end of the new slough area with the boardwalks.

The swallows are over the field, and the ditch south of Westminster Hwy (and probably other places).

I think I met your heron. His name is Fred. (Someone walking a dog said so.)

KaHolly said...

We've learned to always scan for the odd-duck!! How lucky to spot a EUWI! We don't have Violet-green Swallows, either. I'll check out that link for the day that I find myself in the right place at the right time! Happy Day! Thanks for keeping the hope Spring alive to those of us in the Northern climes.