American Wigeon

Mareca americana




Ducks, Geese and Swans (Anatidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Creamy white.

Number of Eggs:

6 - 12

Incubation Days:

22 - 25

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

On ground.

Nest Material:

Grasses and weeds lined with down.





American Wigeon: Medium-sized dabbling duck with pale blue bill and white shoulder patches that are visible in flight. Male is brown with white crown, large green ear patch extending to back of head, buff washed breast and sides and white belly. Female has a grayer colored head in contrast with the rest of the body, brighter and more rufous flanks and paler, greater wing coverts; gray bill; legs and feet are blue-gray to dark gray; brown eyes. Juveniles are mottled brown with gray heads, brown breasts and white bellies.

Range and Habitat

American Wigeon: Common throughout much of North America. Breeds from Alaska, northern Manitoba and southern Quebec south to Nevada, the Dakotas, Colorado, and the Great Lakes region, rarely farther east. Spends winters mainly along the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf coasts. Marshes, ponds, and shallow lakes are preferred habitats.

Breeding and Nesting

American Wigeon: The female selects a nesting site. The nest is made of grass and plant stems and lined with down, and is placed in the tall grass, or in shrubs or other plant cover. Six to twelve creamy white eggs are laid in the nest, often several hundred yards from water. Incubation ranges from 22 to 25 days and is carried out by the female.

Foraging and Feeding

American Wigeon: These birds are almost entirely vegetarian; they eat the stems and leafy parts of aquatic plants, leafy parts of upland grasses and clovers and leafy parts and seeds of crops. They also take insects and other aquatic invertebrates. They are opportunistic and aggressive feeders, often foraging in open water by stealing materials brought to the surface by diving ducks and coots.


American Wigeon: Makes distinctive whistled call "whew-whee-whew"; also quacks.

Similar Species

American Wigeon: Eurasian Wigeon has rufous head, buff forehead and crown, and grayer sides and back.

The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
The upper front part of a bird.
The crown is the top part of the birds head.
Ear patchX
Consists of soft, loose-webbed feathers on the side of the bird's head below and behind the eyes.
The short feathers overlying the median secondary coverts on the top of the wing. They are located near the back and can be seen as the “first row” of feathers on the birds wing. They are also called marginal coverts and lesser secondary coverts.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X