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American Wigeon


[ Chilo Wigeon ] [ American Wigeon ] [ European Wigeon ]
 

 

Description

Both males and females have a bluish black-tipped bill. Male American Wigeons have a white patch from the forehead to the middle of the crown and an iridescent green band from the eye to the back of the head. They have pinkish-brown breast and sides that are separated from the black under tail coverts by white flank feathers. In flight, the white shoulder patch is diagnostic. The legs and feet are blue-gray to dark gray. Male whistles a "whee whee whew." Female American Wigeons have a gray head with a brownish black crown and brownish chest and sides. The legs and feet are blue-gray to dark gray.

 

Breeding

American Wigeons prefer shallow lakes and marshy sloughs that are surrounded by dry sedge-lined meadows and contain submerged vegetation. Female American Wigeons lay an average of 9 eggs.

 

General Comments:

The American Wigeon is approximately 14 inches long with a wingspan of around 34 inches. It is often called "baldpate," for the male's gleaming white forehead and crown that make him instantly recognizable in a mixed flock of ducks. He has green patches on the sides of his grey head as well, and his breast and sides are a rich pinkish brown. In flight, he flashes large white patches on the upper wings. The female is mottled brown, but her contrasting grey head and neck usually serve to distinguish her from female gadwalls and pintails. Her wing-patches are more dingy grey but still recognizable. Both have a blue bill with black on the tip.

Wigeons eat aquatic plants, seeds and insects, and feed on the surface of the water with their heads down and tails in the air. Called "dabbling" or "puddle ducks," they have small webbed feet and can walk better on land than diving ducks. Diving ducks feed on the bottoms of ponds and marshes, have larger feet and waddle when they walk. Their wings are small, forcing them to run across the water when they take off. Dabblers have large wings, compared to their body size, and fly with more control. This enables them to quickly take flight when startled.

 


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American Wigeon Pair


American Wigeon Hen


American Wigeon Drake


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