Unlike many other ducks, widgeon do not pair off until they’ve reached their breeding grounds, and the drakes are particularly belligerent about defending their territories against intrusion by any duck other than their mates.
Formerly known as a baldpate for the drake’s handsome white crown, widgeon like to spend most of their time in shallow pools and back waters feeding of various kinds of vegetation on or just under the surface of the water.
They also show a peculiar fondness of wild celery, which poses a problem for this puddle duck. Since wild celery grows in deep water, and widgeon are not divers, they have to acquire it by other means. The canvasback on the other hand is a great diver. If you notice puddle ducks feeding with diver ducks, stealing their food is the only way that the widgeon can eat. After the canvasback dives down to get the wild celery and surfaces again to eat, the widgeon quickly steals the meal without a tussle from the diver. One thing is for sure, the widgeon’s larcenous habits and green mask over their eyes are familiar enough to have earned the widely used nickname bandit or poacher.
*Text sources provided by Michael McIntosh, Wild Fowl of North America, published by Brown & Bigelow Inc. St. Paul Minnesota.
Species Identification compiled by George Austin McCurry