The wigeon duck is one of the most widespread birds of the northern region. You can see it on the territory of the tundra and forest steppes. Individuals are friendly, therefore they stray into numerous flocks. Ducks are thermophilic, so they fly to warmer climes for the winter. Before departure or during the flight, they find a mate, which they remain faithful to the end of their days.
Origin of the species and description
The wigeon duck is a representative of the order Anseriformes, the family of ducks and the genus of river ducks. The closest relative is the American wigeon. The wigeon is very similar to the wild duck. It got its name due to the sound (whistling) that it makes. In the literature, you can also find such names of this species as whistler and svityaga. The wigeon is a migratory bird, it winters in eastern Africa, Indochina and southern Asia.
Video: Svige duck
The distinctive characteristics of this bird species are:
- life in large flocks, the number of which can be up to a couple of thousand;
- reminiscent of geese in character and habits;
- favorite habitats are meadows, swamps and fields;
- the sound made by an individual is similar to a whistle;
- they love warmth, do not tolerate severe frosts, therefore, before the onset of cold weather, they fly away to spend the winter in warm climes;
- they fly home from wintering when the snow is actively melting;
- seaweed is preferred in food.
Interesting fact: the wigeon duck, in order to get seaweed, not only lowers its head into the water, but also, if necessary, flipped paws up.
Appearance and Features
Duck wigeon in growth reaches a medium size. Usually the body length of an adult is 51 cm, and the weight is 1 kg. This bird has a very elegant color. The color of the plumage is red-gray with streaks. On the body of the duck there is a large mark of white, gold or yellow color. It is located between the beak and the back of the head. From mid-summer, the bird begins to molt and change the color of the plumage. The wigeon duck is rather stocky, the body is tightly built.
The bird differs from other ducks in the following features:
- high forehead;
- short neck;
- long pointed tail;
- short beak.
The wigeon duck is the owner of emerald feathers, which become visible to others only when the wings are opened. A distinctive feature of puberty in males is the appearance of white spots on the wings. Old specimens do not have such spots.
The life expectancy of a duck in captivity is an average of 15 years. In their natural habitat, birds live 2 or 3 years longer. In the long process of molting, the duck does not lose the ability to fly, because the flight feathers fall out gradually, and not immediately.
Where does the wigeon duck live?
This breed of ducks has found wide distribution in Russia, Finland, the northern part of the Caucasus and Scandinavia. On Russian soil, a large number lives in the taiga (mostly coastal, in search of food they reach the Arctic), on the shores of the Sea of Okhotsk and Kamchatka, in Western Siberia, the lower reaches of the Ob, on the banks of the Volga and Ural rivers. The European part of Russia is practically not inhabited by ducks.
At home, the wigeon bird prefers small open reservoirs in river openings without abundant vegetation. At the bottom of such reservoirs there should be a lot of silt and algae. Therefore, the favorite habitats of this breed of birds are swamps, forest lakes and backwaters.
Since the wigeon duck is thermophilic, it flies to warm climes with a mild climate for wintering. The habitat depends on subsistence, since they prefer the sea rupee as food. Therefore, the flock flies to where it is in abundance. South Asia, Indochina, Africa, Mediterranean — here most often birds winter in sea bays and estuaries. For the flight for the winter, they stray into large groups. As a rule, they fly to warmer climes at the end of summer, although if the weather is warm, they can delay their flight until it gets colder.
Now you know where the wigeon duck lives. Let's find out what she eats.
What does the wigeon duck eat?
The Wigeon duck is a vegetarian, although she may inadvertently eat various insects that fall on her into the digestive system along with plants. This breed of ducks gives preference to algae, roots and aboveground parts of plants that grow on the banks of water bodies.
In this they are very similar to domestic ducks. At the same time, in the way of feeding, the wigeon resembles a goose that grazes on the lawn, for this they choose grassy meadows and fields and eat grains and seeds of plants there.
This breed of duck does not have special diving skills (although it can dive and even roll over in the water), so it is difficult for her to get food out of the water. Adapting, they are close to a flock of diving ducks or swans and pick up food that they get.
leaves with long creeping roots;
Interesting fact: In the UK, a variety of sea ruppia was called “grass wigeon”, because it is a favorite delicacy of this breed of birds during the winter.
Character and Lifestyle Features
Wigeon ducks try to avoid open space, preferring small ponds and rivers. They lead an active lifestyle during daylight hours, but sometimes they can be seen sleeping on the water during the day. During sleep, they tilt their heads to the side. From other breeds of ducks, wigeons are distinguished by a voice that differs significantly from the traditional quacking of ducks. The sound is very similar to a whistle, which is why the duck got its name wigeon.
Ducks of this breed love society, live in a flock. Not only are they distinguished by friendliness, fidelity is a hallmark of their character. Ducks live in pairs, while the male, who has found a partner for himself, will never harass another individual.
However, males are not convicted of responsibility – they are bad fathers. They leave the nest within a couple of days after the female lays her eggs. Plus, the males do not nest, this is the business of the female. The female, on the other hand, does not particularly worry about the quality of her nest, so a convenient place in the thickets of grass can serve as a nesting place for her.
To ennoble him, she can only add flooring from her feathers. Curiosity, peacefulness and laziness, which are so atypical for ducks, are also distinctive features of this breed of ducks.
Social structure and reproduction
The friendly wigeon duck prefers to live in a large flock, especially for wintering. At home, the birds huddle in small groups. The process of full puberty ends in this breed of ducks already in the first year of life, but, as a rule, they begin to mate only in the second year.
The creation of pairs of males and females occurs in the fall before flying away for wintering or during the flight itself. By the nesting process, all individuals are divided into pairs. Marriage games are quiet and rather modest. The male constantly walks next to his chosen one, spreading his wings, letting everyone know that she is already “busy”. The mating of the pair is accompanied by a loud sound resembling a whistle.
The construction of the nest is the task of the female, the male does not participate in the process. The nest is located near the reservoir in the thickets. As a nest, the female digs a hole about 7 cm and covers it with her plumage. Twigs and other vegetation, like other birds, are not used to build a nest.
The female lays eggs from late spring to mid-June, while laying up to 10 eggs. The female incubates the eggs on her own for 25 days. The chicks mature for 45 days, after which they become independent and can fly.
Newborn chicks stay in the nest for about a day (during this time they need to dry out), and then they go down to the water with their mother. Chicks run fast, swim and dive well. Already on the 45th day they begin to fly. By the end of summer, young people unite in flocks and fly off to wintering grounds.
Natural enemies of the wigeon duck
Numerous flocks of wigeon ducks attract the attention of a large number of predators, terrestrial and flying. On the ground, the enemies of ducks and their clutches are threatened by the attack of foxes, raccoons, forest cats, martens, otters, raccoon dogs, wild boars, snakes.
In flight, ducks become prey for large birds: eagles, falcons, owls and etc. Duck eggs are hunted by crows, magpies and gulls. In water bodies, ducks are also constantly in danger; they become easy prey for crocodiles and large fish: pikes and catfish. Do not disdain ducks of this breed and parasites, so they can carry bird flu, helminths and ticks.
Nature has not endowed ducks with special functions of self-defense against attack by enemies. On the water, sensing extraneous noise, immediately dives and swims away from danger. Adults protect owl offspring and, in the event of an attack on the clutch of a predator, immediately pounce on the enemy and flap their wings.
Another dangerous enemy for ducks is the wigeon, a man who has been hunting for delicious poultry meat for many centuries. A man hunts for ducks using hunting dogs, which easily find and bring the carcass of a dead bird, passing through reed beds. The spaniel does an excellent job of hunting on the water.
But ducks are loved not only for tasty meat. Already in the Middle Ages, people highly appreciated the fluff of eiders, goldeneyes, shelducks. For the sake of Gogol's lands, the princes of Kievan Rus even waged internecine wars. The collection of eider down, bloodless in itself, was carried out in the northern countries on such a large scale that one factor of concern led to a reduction in the populations of these ducks and forced people to protect them.
And in our time, the cost of this raw material is extremely high, so eiderdown jackets can be safely attributed to luxury items. History also knows more exotic ways of using duck raw materials, for example, skins of mergansers, peeled of feathers, were once used to trim fur coats.
Population and species status
The population of wigeon ducks is widespread in Russia, Scandinavia, the North Caucasus and Finland. Sometimes small groups of this breed of birds can be found on the coast of the Arctic Islands. Also, a large population of wigeons lives in the taiga zones. The shores of Lake Baikal and the southern side of the Altai Mountains, Kamchatka, the shores of the Sea of Okhotsk are also a place of widespread distribution of this bird.
The population of ducks is considered to be quite common. The habitat of this breed of ducks exceeds 10 million square meters. m. with a population of 2.8 – 3.3 million individuals. Despite the fact that a person hunts for a bird on an industrial scale, ornithologists believe that there is no concern for the number of individuals in the wild. Therefore, there is no ban on shooting this type of duck breed. Poultry meat is recognized as tasty, so people actively hunt for it.
The main populations of wigeon ducks today can be found in:
The wigeon duck is friendly, loyal, but lazy. It is a prey for a huge number of predators, both on the ground and in flight. The very same individual is a vegetarian, giving preference in food to marine vegetation. The bird population is significant, despite the fact that they are actively hunted on an industrial scale.