Pictured above is a male American Widgeon, Mareca americana. This duck belongs to the subfamily Anatinae of the family Anatidae-the ducks, geese, and swans. The surface feeding ducks or dabbling ducks as they are sometimes called feed by dipping their heads underwater to reach water plants and seeds they consume. Sometimes people call this duck Baldpate which refers to the white patch on the top of their head. Their black eyepatch turns into a iridescent green ear patch. When you couple these characters with a skyblue upper bill, you have a easily identified duck.
The photo above shows 3 ducks. You would think by proximity that you have a mated pair of American Widgeons being followed by some other duck. You would be wrong. The American Widgeon is by himself and the female Gadwall next to him is being pursued by a suitor of her species. Gadwalls are another member of Anatinae and their scientific name is Anas strepera.
In the image above, you see 5 ducks. The sleeping duck in the background may be a Readhead, Aythya americana who belongs to the diving duck tribe Aythyini of the Anatidae family. He is not important to this story so he can be ignored.
In the middle of the image, from left to right, you are seeing 2 male American Widgeons, 1 female American Widgeon, and a male Gadwall. I included this picture to show how a female American Widgeon looks. The female is uniformly reddish brown on the breast and her head has a grayish cast to it. Her bill, like the male’s, is light blue on top. Also take note of the males’ ear patches, because of the angle of the light they look bluish black instead of their usual flashy green.
This image also shows that lots of species of ducks share the same habitat and this can provide the viewer with some spectacular choices of beautifully colored birds. It also reminds us of the need for preserving habitat if we want to keep these species in our lives and on our planet.