The most common ducks found in Nova Scotia during the bitter cold winter months are American Wigeons, Mallard ducks and Common Brown Ducks. Ducks can be found in large flocks wherever there is open water between the ice. They prefer to stay sheltered in coves, bays, and harbors where the winds are not as strong. When temperatures plunge to sub-zero readings, ducks will expand their feathers and tuck their necks in close to their chests in an attempt to keep warm.
American Wigeon (Anas americana) Male (in breeding plumage) and female. Also known as American Widgeon or Baldpate is a species of wigeon in the dabbling duck genus Anas. If this is split up, all wigeons will go into their old genus Mareca again. It is a common and widespread duck which breeds in all but the extreme north of Canada and Alaska and also in the Interior West through Idaho, Colorado, the Dakotas, and Minnesota, as well as eastern Washington and Oregon. It is the New World counterpart of the Eurasian Wigeon. The conservation status of this bird is Least Concern. This dabbling duck is migratory and winters farther south than its breeding range in the southern half of the United States, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and the Mid-Atlantic coastal region, and further south into Central America and northwestern South America. It is a rare but regular vagrant to western Europe. It is highly gregarious outside of the breeding season and will form large flocks. The breeding male has pinkish flanks and breast back with a black rear end and a brilliant white patch on their wings behind their dark green speculum - obvious in flight or at rest. It has a greyish head with a green auricular and a whitish crown stripe. Their belly is also white. It is 45-56 cm (18-23 inches) long, with a 32 inch wingspan and a weight of 1.6 pounds. This wigeon has two adult molt per year and a juvenile molt in the first year as well. The females are light brown, with plumage much like a female Mallard. The wing patch behind the speculum is gray. They can be distinguished from most ducks (apart from Eurasian Wigeon) by shape. However, that species has a darker head and all grey underwing. The head and neck coloring of the female is different as opposed to the Eurasian Wigeon. In non-breeding (eclipse) plumage, the drake looks more like the female. It is a bird of open wetlands such as wet grassland or marshes with some taller vegetation and usually feeds by dabbling for plant food or grazing which it does very readily. It nests on the ground near water and under cover. It lays 6-12 creamy white eggs. Flocks will often contain American Coots. This is a noisy species. The male has a clear whistle in three syllables: whoee-whoe-whoe, whereas the female has a low growl qua-ack. Source: Wikipedia.org . Halifax Harbour, Nova Scotia 09 March 2007.