Birdwatch: the whistling of wigeons is a winter highlight – Rights History
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Birdwatch: the whistling of wigeons is a winter highlight

Half a million of these striking birds arrive in Britain in autumn to take advantage of the mild climate

On a chilly winter’s day in Somerset, I’m serenaded by the whistling of wigeons. The sound is made by the males, whose handsome chestnut head daubed with custard yellow marks out these plump little birds from their fellow dabbling ducks.

The name “wigeon” can puzzle new birders, who perhaps expect a cousin of the pigeon, rather than a duck. Both names are borrowed from medieval French, with wigeon thought to derive from a verb meaning to whine or shout – which, given the bird’s tuneful sound, does seem rather unfair.

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