American Wigeon Duck

The American Wigeon Duck is a medium-sized bird; it is larger than a teal, but smaller than a pintail. In silhouette, the wigeon can be distinguished from other dabblers by its round head, short neck, and small bill. It is common and widespread, breeding in all but the extreme north of Canada and Alaska and also in the Interior West through Idaho, Colorado, the Dakotas, and Minnesota, as well as eastern Washington and Oregon.

The American wigeon duck 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. While on the water, wigeon often gather with feeding coots and divers, and are known to grab pieces of vegetation brought to the surface by diving water birds. For this reason, they are sometimes called “poacher” or “robber” ducks.

American Wigeon Duck

American Wigeon Duck

Appearance: 

Male – The male American Wigeon duck has a cream colored crown and forehead, wide iridescent-green stripe running from the eye down the nape, the front face and throat are a black spotted creamy-white, blue-grey beak with black tip and black around the base, breast, flanks, and back are a pinkish-brown, white belly and undersides, and black under-tail. Both sexes have grey legs and feet.
Female – The female has mainly a grey-brown plumage, pale-blue beak with black tip, and white belly.
Eclipse – Similar to the female but has a rich chestnut brown plumage.

Size: – Typical Adult is 18-23 inches.

Food: – Mainly aquatic plants, seeds, algae, sedges, and some insects and larvae. Also grazes on pasture grasses.

Habitat: – Wetlands, marshes, lakes, and wet grassland in Canada and north USA. Winters further south in southern USA, Mexico, and central America.

Breeding Season: – End of May to June.

Eggs: – 5 to 7 (creamy-white color).

Notes: – The American Wigeon is a medium-sized dabbling duck. It is sometimes called a Baldpate due to its white crown making it look bald. American Wigeons are a noisy duck.

The different types of wild ducks can be grouped into puddle, aka “dabbling” and diving ducks. The dabblers mostly feed in smaller bodies of shallow water or along shorelines, where they are able to tip their bodies forward to reach their food on the bottom. There are divers who feed in deeper water where they dive and pursue their quarry. Some of these birds, the Harlequin Duck for example, actually dives to the bottom of fast-flowing waters and feeds on life forms attached to rocks.

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