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American Wigeon

Anas americana ORDER: ANSERIFORMES FAMILY: ANATIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A common and increasingly abundant duck, the American Wigeon breeds in northwestern North America and is found throughout the rest of the continent in migration and in winter. Its small bill and the male's white forehead, as well as certain aspects of nesting and feeding behavior, distinguish this species from other dabbling ducks.

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At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
16.5–23.2 in
42–59 cm
Wingspan
33.1 in
84 cm
Weight
19–46.9 oz
540–1330 g
Other Names
  • Baldpate, American Widgeon
  • Canard d'Amerique (French)
  • Pato chalcuán, Pato americano (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The American Wigeon was formerly known as "Baldpate" because the white stripe resembled a bald man's head.
  • The American Wigeon is a rare, but regular straggler to Europe where it turns up in flocks of Eurasian Wigeon.
  • The American Wigeon's short bill enables it to exert more force at the bill tip than other dabbling ducks, thus permitting efficient dislodging and plucking of vegetation.
  • The America Wigeon is the dabbling duck most likely to leave water and graze on vegetation in fields. However, feeding in fields on grain, such as corn, is rather rare.
  • The American Wigeon's diet has a higher proportion of plant matter than the diet of any other dabbling duck.

Habitat


Lake/Pond

Shallow freshwater wetlands, including ponds, marshes, and rivers.

Food


Plants

Aquatic plants; some insects and mollusks during the breeding season.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
3–13 eggs
Egg Description
Creamy white.
Condition at Hatching
Covered in down and able to leave the nest soon after hatching.
Nest Description

A depression on the ground, lined with grasses and down. Nest is located in tall grass or shrubs, often far from water.

Nest Placement

Ground

Behavior


Dabbler

American Wigeon courtship displays include tail-wagging, head-turning, wing-flapping, and sudden jumps out of the water.Feeds on vegetation at and just below surface. Submerges head and tips tail up to reach plants under surface.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

American Wigeon populations declined by 3.5 percent per year between 1966 and 2010, resulting in a cumulative decline of 79 percent, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. The 2014 State of the Birds listed them as a Common Bird in Steep Decline. Populations declined by approximately 50 percent in the 1980s as a result of extended drought in prairie regions. Widely hunted in the United States in fall, subject to federal limits.

Credits

Range Map Help

American Wigeon Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings