Dabbling Duck Identification in Early Fall

Alexander Henry

I seem to remember a molting Wigeon last year in early December which was submitted by someone to eBird as a “young male Eurasian or a hybrid” which I was fortunately able to watch complete its molt and turn into a crisp, clean, classic male American Wigeon.

Regarding identifying eclipse plumage male vs female Eurasian Wigeons, the head color is different. Also, if a bird has the gray feathers starting to molt in on its back, then it’s a male, not a female. Case in point:

On Friday, October 1, 2021, Joe Morlan <jmorlan@...> wrote:
On Fri, 01 Oct 2021 14:58:41 -0700, "Alexander Henry" <awhenry@...>

>American Wigeon males molting out of eclipse plumage. I have seen even very experienced, well-respected birders try to identify molting male Americans as hybrid wigeons or Eurasian Wigeons. If the forehead stripe is creamy or yellowish, but everything else looks normal for an American Wigeon, then its an American Wigeon. Some of them look a bit weird right now but give it a couple weeks and they will look more normal. You can even check in on the flock on a regular basis to watch how the molt progresses!

Same thing occurs with Eurasian Wigeon males which molt out of eclipse
quite late in winter.  So a bird with the head of a Eurasian Wigeon and a
body of an American Wigeon is far more likely to be a Eurasian Wigeon that
has not completed body molt, than a hybrid.  Many times so-called hybrid
wigeon stick around and molt into pure Eurasian males.

Also beware of female Eurasian Wigeons in early fall.  They may be eclipse

>This last one is definitely less important but its a bit of a pet peeve of mine. Identifying Green-winged Teals to subspecies. I do not know how to identify the females to subspecies, and no matter who you are, I don't think you do either.

Female Common Teal have the wing-bar on the Greater coverts, broader and
whiter than on Green-winged Teal, but there is considerable overlap. There
are some claims of female Common Teal identified in California by a very
broad all white greater covert tips. As for whether these identifications
are correct, I'll quote a former member of the records committee, "What is
Joseph Morlan, Pacifica, CA

Alex Henry

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