My Bantam Lake

American Wigeon

Written on 07/03/2018

Mareca americana

American Wigeons are medium-sized, rather compact ducks with a short bill and a round head. They tend to sit on the water with their heads pulled down, giving them a no-necked look. They measure42 to 59 centimeters in length, with a wingspan of approximately 84 centimeters. Breeding males have a brownish gray head with a wide green stripe behind the eye and a gleaming white cap. The body is pale cinnamon with white patches on the sides of the rump that contrast with the black undertail feathers. In flight, note the white patch on the upperwing and a green patch on the secondaries. Females and nonbreeding males are warm brown with a brownish gray head and a dark smudge around the eye. Both sexes have a pale gray bill with a black tip. American Wigeons congregate in groups on lakes and wetlands, where they nibble aquatic vegetation from the surface or tip up to grab plants under the water. They also waddle through fields plucking at plants with their short bill. Unlike many ducks, they are quite vocal, especially during the nonbreeding season. At all times of year, American Wigeons can be found in freshwater wetlands, lakes, slow-moving rivers, impoundments, flooded fields, estuaries, bays, and marshes. This species is of low conservation concern.

Fun Facts:

  • 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.

  • The American Wigeon is also known as "baldpate" because the white stripe resembles a bald man's head.


Source: American Wigeon Overview and Identification Information, All About Birds, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology