Living Bird Magazine
American WigeonMareca americana
- ORDER: Anseriformes
- FAMILY: Anatidae
Quiet lakes and wetlands come alive with the breezy whistle of the American Wigeon, a dabbling duck with pizzazz. Breeding males have a green eye patch and a conspicuous white crown, earning them the nickname "baldpate." Females are brushed in warm browns with a gray-brown head and a smudge around the eye. Noisy groups congregate during fall and winter, plucking plants with their short gooselike bill from wetlands and fields or nibbling plants from the water's surface. Despite being common their populations are declining.More ID Info
Find This Bird
The best time to see American Wigeons in the Lower 48 is from August through April. During these months check wetlands, ponds, and nearby agricultural fields and listen for their unique nasal whistle, which is often the first clue that they are around. From a distance the male's gleaming white forehead and white rump sides are sure to grab your attention. American Wigeons flush easily if disturbed, so watch from a distance to get the best looks. During hunting season, they tend to be even more wary and may shift to feeding in fields at night and larger, safer lakes and ponds with vegetative cover during the day.
- Silbón Americano (Spanish)
- Canard d'Amérique (French)
- Cool Facts
- The rusty-headed Eurasian Wigeon turns up as a rarity in flocks of American Wigeons on occasion, but the American Wigeon also turns up in Europe in flocks of Eurasian Wigeon.
- American Wigeons eat a higher proportion of plant matter than any other dabbling duck thanks to their short gooselike bill. The shortness of the bill helps exert more force at the tip so they can pluck vegetation from fields and lawns with ease.
- After breeding, successful males and unsuccessful females head north to large lakes where they spend around 35 flightless days growing new feathers before heading south. Successful females and juveniles don't move to molt; they stay in their breeding areas to grow new feathers.
- The American Wigeon is also known as "baldpate" because the white stripe resembles a bald man's head.
- The oldest American Wigeon reported was at least 21 years and 4 months old.