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Bird of the Week: American Wigeon

The American wigeon, colloquially known as ‘baldpate’ can be seen in Michigan during migration. This bird gets its common name from the white forehead and crown of the male, which gives it the appearance of being bald. Males can often be identified from a distance by the pinkish hue of their light brown bodies. In flight, the white flank feathers and black undertail are characteristic.

American wigeons are dabbling birds, riding high on the water and grazing from the surface. Wigeons tend to be seen with gadwalls, diving ducks and coots. Wigeons prefer to feed on the leaves and stems of aquatic plants and have also been observed stealing bits of food brought to the surface by diving ducks.

American wigeons nest farther north than any other dabbling ducks except the northern pintail. Here in Michigan our best chance to see the American wigeon is during migration, which peaks in mid-April and mid-October.

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