but not of the athletic variety…

It's called an American Widgeon to distinguish the North American variety from the Eurasian one.

This duck is called an American Widgeon (Anas americana) to distinguish the North American variety from its similar-looking Eurasian close relative (Anas penelope).   Female widgeons look much like female mallards, but with a rounder head and a much shorter bill.

Here’s a duck that really likes its green vegetables and will graze happily in the water on aquatic plants or on land.   Their short, stubby bill provides the leverage to forcefully pull up plants other ducks cannot get.

With its

With the iridescent green stripe on the side and back of its head and a bold white forehead (reflecting a lot of white back at the camera), it is easily recognized among a big group of ducks.

Widgeons (both Eurasian and American) breed in the far northern temperate zone and migrate to southerly latitudes with open water for the winter.  Wikipedia says widgeons are highly gregarious outside of the breeding season, but this guy was all by himself.

An American Tree Sparrow

An American Tree Sparrow (Spizella arborea), looks nothing like a Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus), which is a close relative of the familiar House Sparrow.  Furthermore, they don’t hang out in trees, but are ground-feeding and nesting birds.  In fact, they breed in far northern latitudes on the edge of the tundra where trees are scarce!  Did ornithologists run out of ideas for naming birds?

American Tree Sparrows look like a bigger version of a Chipping Sparrow with their chesnut crown and eyestripe, and the mottled brown and tan plumage.  But they have a faint black spot in the middle of their buffy breast feathers that Chipping Sparrows lack.

american tree sparrow

A small flock of 4 sparrows foraged in the weedy gravel, picking out microscopic (to me) seeds that had fallen there.  I suppose wind-blown seed easily gets trapped in gravel, making it a good place to forage, because the birds spent several minutes scouring the roadbed.

Their plumage camouflages them well in the weedy vegetation.  I didn't even see the bird in the original of this photo until I zoomed in.

Their plumage camouflages them well in the weedy vegetation. I didn’t even see the bird in the original of this photo until I zoomed in.

7 thoughts on “All-Americans

  1. Hello Sue, lovely bird pictures. Your NA wigeon looks more like our teal (Anas crecca) than the wigeon (Anas penelope).

    May be the NA tree sparrow was named by Europeans (of the non-ornithologocal type) because it is similar to ours? It amazes me how they manage to pick out tiny seeds on a gravel road too.

    • Thanks, Finn. I think you are correct about the naming of the Tree Sparrow by immigrants lonely for their homeland fauna, but you would think that ornithologists might have corrected the misnomer. Interesting about the wigeon resembling your teal, and it makes me wonder about their ancestral lineages.

  2. I am glad to see that I am not the only one who tries to photograph sparrows. The way that they forage makes it tough to get unobstructed shots most of the time. I really like your widgeon shots too and have run into the dilemma several times about European birds that have the same common name as the North American birds, but are completely different.

    • They are quite cute in their hopping and poking around, inclining their heads this way and that as they look for the hidden treasures. I have only routinely seen the song and chipping sparrows up close like this. The others seem to do a better job of hiding in the brush.

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