English and Scientific names:

Eurasian Wigeon  (Anas penelope)

Number of individuals: 

1 adult male, alternate plumage



Specific Locality:

Port Fourchon area:  large pond/impoundment north of Theriot Road, approximately 0.4 mile from Fourchon Road (La. 3090)

Date(s) when observed:

9 January 1990

NOTE:  I submitted details on this sighting to the LBRC in early 1990 but did not have a long form to record them on [I was then in graduate school in Austin, TX and only returning to La. on occasional weekends].  Because of the absence of the official form, I assume, the record was not reviewed.  See attached file for copies of those records, acknowledgement of their receipt by LBRC Secretary, and 2 photos.  I am grateful to the LBRC for their belated review of my report now.

Time(s) of day when observed:  

Approximately 11:15 am until 11:55 am

Reporting observer and address:

Gay Gomez

Lake Charles, LA

Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s):

(My father, Russell Gomez, also saw the bird but did not identify it; he is not a birder.)None on the day of my initial sighting, but see below.

Other observers who independently identified the bird(s)

OTE:  After returning to the New Orleans area on the day of the sighting, I phoned Dan Purrington and Mac Myers to tell the news and describe the bird.  Mac Myers traveled to Port Fourchon the following day and found the bird, verifying my sighting and identification.  (See AMERICAN BIRDS, vol. 44, no. 2, p. 280.) Later, many observers traveled to the area and also saw the bird.

Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):

The late morning light shining on the bird was strong, for the sun on this clear, cool, early January day was behind me as I looked north toward the pond.  Temperatures were in the mid-60s, so heat waves were minimal.

Optical equipment: 

Bushnell 7 to 21 x 40 zoom binoculars, 21 power used, condition of binoculars excellent

Distance to bird(s): 

Approximately 200 meters

Duration of observation:

40 minutes


Open water of large pond/impoundment with marshy edges, shallow enough for dabbling ducks to feed

Behavior of bird: 

The bird was swimming slowly amid a large flock of American Wigeon.  It occasionally tipped to feed (dabbled: tail up, head under the water), just as did the American Wigeon.  The bird moved around during the time I observed it (approx. 40 minutes) so that I was able to view it from several angles.


Additional details of these observations are recorded below in the "Description" section and are taken directly from my field notes.
While scanning a large flock of American Wigeon (approximately 200) moving slowly on the water, occasionally feeding, out about 200-230 yards (north of Theriot Road), I spotted a bird which I first thought to be a Redhead.  The bird swam slowly and presented a side view; its reddish head and light, grayish sides clearly distinguished it from the American Wigeon around it.  As I continued to watch the bird in the excellent light, the view from other angles led me to question my initial thoughts on its identity.  Repeated frontal views showed not only a light bill, but also a light forehead and crown identical in extent to those of nearby American Wigeon.  At this point I realized that a very careful examination was necessary, so I moved to the side of the car to steady my binoculars on its roof.  After several anxious minutes of searching, I relocated the bird and continued to observe its light forehead and crown, noting a slight difference in their color (very light peach or!
 off-white) from the white of the American Wigeon.  The bird then began to feed like those wigeon around it:  it tipped; it did not dive.  When the bird was tipped, I had a good view of its posterior and observed a white band separating the black undertail coverts from the gray sides.  After briefly resting my eyes and checking the field guide for additional identifying characteristics, I was fortunate to again relocate the bird.  It continued to feed at intervals, between which I was able to discern the bird's light (rather than black) breast. Despite its unlikely occurrence in southeastern Louisiana I am convinced by my observations that the bird in question is an adult male Eurasian Wigeon.


Not noted

Similar species:

The bird was not a Redhead, for it had a pale peach forehead and crown identical in extent (though not in exact color) to that of the American Wigeon with which it was swimming and feeding.  The white flank patch and light breast of the bird I observed were also not characteristic of Redhead plumage.  The bird also fed in the same manner as the American Wigeon: by dabbling, not diving or completely submerging.

The bird was not an American Wigeon, for its forehead and crown were not the bright white of the American Wigeon, but rather a pale peach or off-white color (so it appeared in the strong light of late morning).  Also, a very clear distinction was the bird's reddish head; the nearby American wigeon drakes had the white/green/gray pattern that was familiar to me, and the female American wigeon were much plainer in appearance.

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

2 photographs are attached.  They are scanned from 2 slides taken by Gwen Smalley on 14 January 1990 and sent to Gay Gomez shortly thereafter, for documentation purposes; I am grateful to Gwen for her thoughtfulness.  (View the slides in full-screen/slide show mode, and you'll see the Eurasian Wigeon near the center foreground in each.) 

Previous experience with this species: 

This was my first sighting of a Eurasian Wigeon.

However, previous trips to the coast with Dan Purrington, Norton Nelkin, David Muth, and Mac Myers prepared me well to make this discovery.  I remember them commenting as we viewed flocks of American Wigeon to always look carefully to see if there was a "redhead" among them. 

Identification aids:

I used the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America during and after the observation.

I also described the bird later that day to Dan Purrington and Mac Myers, who seemed to concur with my identification of it.

This description is written from: 

The description is taken from notes made during and immediately after the observation.  I have quoted from the notes in the "Description" section above and have extracted and paraphrased some of the information to conform to the questions and format of this form.

Are you positive of your identification? If not, explain: 


Yes, I am positive of my identification.

Date and time: 

25 March 2010, 4:00 pm