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American Wigeon


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

American Wigeon Photo

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.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
16.5–23.2 in
42–59 cm
33.1 in
84 cm
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.
  • The oldest American Wigeon was at least 21 years, 4 months old.



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



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


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




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.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

There are conflicting reports on American Wigeon populations. According to the North American Breeding Bird Survey, populations declined by 2.5% per year between 1966 and 2014, resulting in a cumulative decline of 71%. The 2014 State of the Birds listed them as a Common Bird in Steep Decline. However, federal waterfowl surveys show that despite rises and falls in population over the last 60 years, the overall population has remained stable, and since 2005 American Wigeon are on the rise, increasing by about 20 percent per year in 2013 and 2014. Populations declined by approximately 50 percent in the 1980s as a result of extended drought in prairie regions. They are widely hunted in the United States in fall, subject to federal limits.


Range Map Help

American Wigeon Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings


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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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