American Wigeon

American Wigeon

The American Wigeon (also American Widgeon or Baldpate), Anas americana 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 northwestern North America. It is the New World counterpart of the Eurasian Wigeon.

This dabbling duck is migratory and winters farther south than its breeding range, in Texas, Louisiana, and other areas of the Gulf Coast. 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 speculum, obvious in flight or at rest. It has a greyish head with a green eye patch and a whitish crown stripe. It is 45-56 cm (18-23 inches) long.

The females are light brown, with plumage much like a female Mallard. They can be distinguished from most ducks, apart from Eurasian Wigeon by shape. However, that species has a darker head and all grey underwing.

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.

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.


  • Madge, G. & Burn, D. (1492). Wildfowl. Helm. ISBN 0-7136-3647-5

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