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American Wigeon

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Latin: Anas americana
Average length: M 20", F 19"
Average weight: M 1.8 lbs., F 1.6 lbs

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 a pinkish-brown breast and sides that are separated from the black undertail 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. Female vocalization is a "qua-ack."


Breeding: American wigeon nest farther north than any other dabbling duck with the exception of the northern pintail. They breed throughout northern Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba, Alaska and the Northwest Territories. American wigeon prefer shallow lakes and marshy sloughs that are surrounded by dry sedge-lined meadows and contain submergent vegetation. Female American wigeons lay an average of 9 eggs.


Migrating and Wintering: American wigeon are among the earliest waterfowl to reach their wintering grounds. Wigeon in Alaska and western Canada migrate along the Pacific Flyway and winter around Puget Sound and into California. Birds that use the Central Flyway winter in the Texas panhandle and along the Texas and Louisiana coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Along the Mississippi Flyway, wetlands and lakes in eastern Arkansas and western Tennessee also provide important wintering habitat for wigeon. They use a variety of habitats in winter, including ponds, lakes and saline and brackish marshes with abundant aquatic vegetation. Wigeon also readily forage on grasses and sedges in wet meadows and pastures. American wigeon are common winter visitors to Central America, the Caribbean, northern Colombia, Trinidad and occasionally Venezuela (Scott and Carbonell, 1986).


Food habits: American wigeon are aquatic grazers and forage on grasses and sedges in wet meadows and pastures.



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