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Understanding Waterfowl: Ways of the Wigeon

These fascinating ducks have many characteristics and behaviors that set them apart
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  • photo by Eric Rueter
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Among dabbling ducks, wigeon are relatively late nesters, with peak nest initiation typically occurring from late May to early June. Females breed during their first year of life and will renest if their first nest is lost. They prefer to nest in tall, dense, shrubby vegetation. Even on the wide-open prairies, wigeon nests are often found near or under snowberry bushes. 

Male wigeon typically depart nesting areas toward the end of the incubation period to undergo their summer molt on large lakes. Hens begin to molt six to seven weeks after hatching their broods. As a result, adult males typically begin the fall migration earlier than females and immature birds. 
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