Thursday, January 16, 2014

RISE OF THE STORM WIGEON



I first heard of "storm wigeons" from a coworker on a project in North Dakota. He was an obsessive hunter/fisher/trapper. He hunted everything you could possibly legally hunt, and unsurprisingly was made giddy by the area's abundant waterfowl.



If you are wondering what a storm wigeon is, this is it; an American Wigeon with a white head. Normally only the forecrown of an American Wigeon is white; on a storm wigeon, the white is much more extensive. Storm wigeons seem to be pretty rare (this is the first that I remember seeing) and are lusted after by hunters across the country.


Of course, I have no idea why they are called storm wigeons, but at least it's epic. But why do they exist? Some people think it's a rare variant of American Wigeon, some think it's more of a function of age (male and female Laysan Ducks, for example, get more white in the face as they get older). What do you think? At any rate, a very cool looking bird. Photographed at Bubbling Springs, Port Hueneme, CA.


Here is a more typical American Wigeon for comparison. Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA.

4 comments:

  1. Nice looking bird, Tucker! We tend to see a couple of these a year in with abundant wigeon population here in the Humboldt Bay region.

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  2. I had never heard of these until this blog post, actually. And what do you know, I saw my first one yesterday here near Sac. They really jump out...

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  3. Have never heard this morph referred to as a "Storm Wigeon", but I like it. In California I've heard them referred to as "White-cheeked Wigeon", a good phrase to use in a web search. They are said to be unusual but not rare, i.e. about 1 out of 500-1,000 male American Wigeons will sport the unusually white head. Have not heard of a female White-cheeked Wigeon. I've seen 2 in Marin County, CA. First was very local, at Corte Madera Marsh about 12 years ago. The second was more memorable, as we were with the late Rich Stallcup viewing ducks at the Teal Pond (Pt. Reyes Nat. Seashore, along Pierce Point Road).

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  4. I had never heard of this anomaly before but I will look for them in the future. Sad to hear that they are "lusted after by hunters across the country." Why is it that hunters always strive to kill the rarest and/or best specimens in nature (the largest male elk with the biggest rack for example), while natural predators like wolves kill the weakest specimens thereby promoting the strongest individuals of the species.

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