American Wigeon - Amerikaanse Smient

American Wigeon

Amerikaanse Smient

Anas americana

Pictures: Teus Luijendijk


January 2001, Ouderkerk aan de Amstel NH

September/October 2001, Texel NH


January 2001, Ouderkerk aan de Amstel NH

Large numbers of Wigeon winter every year in The Netherlands. Many feed during the night in the lush meadows in our lowland polders, and rest during the day on lakes. One such lake is the sand pit near Ouderkerk a/d Amstel, in the vicinity of Amsterdam. Here, approximately 20,000 Wigeon can be seen from November onwards each year. Every now and then, a rare duck is found amidst these masses. Several times this rarity turned out to be an American Wigeon, although several hybrids also have been reported from the very same site. This individual stayed close inshore, allowing me to take some video shots, of which I show some grabs here:

   American Wigeon  -  Amerikaanse Smient  Anas americana   male;  videograbs (320x), contrast enhanced.
   Ouderkerk aan de Amstel NH, The Netherlands, 21 January 2001.

   Note the darkish crown stripe, which can be seen most clearly in the bottom right picture.


September/October 2001, Texel NH

A bird that caused a lot of debate is shown below. Although the identification is by far not clinched, I think it could very well be a good American Wigeon, a drake changing from eclipse to winter plumage. The possibility of some genetic influence by Chiloe Wigeon Anas sibilatrix is, however, difficult to eliminate. On the other hand, there are in my opinion some good points to consider this bird as a 100% American Wigeon:

  • There is not a trace of any black and white pattern as is common for the breast and upperparts of Chiloe Wigeon.
  • The largely dark crown may be reminiscent of Chiloe Wigeon, but it is also shown by eclipse drakes American Wigeon. Note also the dark crown stripe of the previous bird, which may be a remnant of such dark crown.
  • The bird is somewat larger than the Eurasian Wigeons, which fits American perfectly. Chiloe Wigeon is (on average) in between the two.
  • The axillaries and underwing coverts are pure white, thus obviously different from those of the Eurasian Wigeons accompanying it. Do not misinterpret the picture below showing the underwing, on which these parts show greyish; light conditions weren't vary favourable here, making every part of white more drab than it actually was. Eurasian Wigeons showed under similar conditions a much darker underwing
  • Some people have suggested the mottled ventral region to be wrong for American Wigeon, but I personally do not see what could be wrong: it's just white in eclipse, and turns black towards breeding plumage.

    The bird was finally considered by the Dutch rarities committee to be of too dubious identity for acceptation as a true American Wigeon.

      possible American Wigeon  -  mogelijke Amerikaanse Smient  Anas americana   male in transitional plumage;
      videograbs (320x), contrast enhanced.
      De Slufter, Texel NH, The Netherlands, 30 September/1 October 2001.


    Copyright ©Teus Luijendijk 2001