After a morning of birding down at Jones Beach, I headed north. I had considered going up to Connecticut to see the Fork-tailed Flycatcher, but realized that I didn’t have cash or my EZ-Pass, so I went home instead. Passing through Oyster Bay, I stopped at the small Mill Pond on a whim and found a nice mix of ducks including this Eurasian Wigeon (EUWI)!
As the name implies, this bird is the Eurasian cousin of our American Wigeon (AMWI, and the Mill Pond had over 20 AMWI today). The bird is considered rare in the Americas, but some show up somewhere in the US every winter. A couple of years ago, we had a breeding-plumaged male at on oxbow in Logan, UT. Referencing eBird, I found that one EUWI was reported from the same pond back in 1994 by Neil Maruca. Could it be possible that the same bird has returned after 16 years?!? No.
First off, this individual at the Mill Pond today, viewed around 12pm, is obviously a male EUWI based on the chestnut head and yellow forehead – no other species has these field marks, and the female lacks them as well. The rest of the body of this bird is a mixture of colors and patterns that, according to my Collins guide, are representative of an immature individual – so the final verdict is first-winter male Eurasian Wigeon! My only concern: neither Collins nor Sibley show the gray (grey) forming into a collar around the neck. Anybody want to share their thoughts on that?
This is my first immature EUWI seen anywhere, and, at the present time, eBird reports that there are three other EUWI in the state of New York – all breeding-plumaged males. Now we’ll see if he sticks around until the Christmas Bird Count on December 18th…