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Eurasian Wigeon

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Latin: Anas penelope
Average length: M 19.3", F 17.9
Average weight: M 1.6 lbs., F 1.4 lbs.

Description: Eurasian wigeons often can be found in the company of American wigeons. The male's bright russet-red head, topped with a cream stripe, and its gray back and sides, distinguish it from its American cousin. Females of the two species are so similar that separation in the field is unreliable. However, adult female Eurasian wigeons have two color phases: gray and red. Females in reddish plumage have russet-brown heads, necks, chests, backs, sides and flanks, with a much redder tinge than female American wigeons. Male Eurasian wigeon have a black-speckled russet-red neck and head topped with a cream stripe. The breast is grayish-pink and the lower breast, belly and sides of the rear body behind the flanks are white. The flanks are finely vermiculated and appear gray. In flight, a white shoulder patch and green speculum are displayed. The bill is blue-gray with a black tip and the legs and feet are blue-gray. Female Eurasian wigeon have gray-brown-to-russet-brown heads, necks, chests, backs, sides and flanks. The bill is blue-gray with a black tip and the legs and feet are blue-gray.


Breeding: Eurasian wigeons breed from Iceland, the British Isles and Scandinavia east to eastern Siberia and Kamchatka, and south to northern Europe, central Russia and northern China. There are no breeding records of Eurasian wigeons in North America. Females prefer to nest on the ground near water in areas of taiga and forest. They lay an average of 7-10 eggs.


Migrating and Wintering: The majority of Eurasian wigeons winter from Iceland, the British Isles, northern Europe, southern Russia and Japan south to the eastern Atlantic islands, Africa, Arabia, India, the Malay Peninsula, southern China, Formosa and the Philippines. In North America, the Eurasian wigeon is an occasional visitor to the Pacific coast, from southeastern Alaska to northern Baja California, and the Atlantic-Gulf coast, from Labrador and Newfoundland south to Florida and west to southern Texas.


Population: Although accurate population information does not exist, Eurasian wigeon populations are thought to be stable.


Food habits: Eurasian wigeons are aquatic grazers and feed primarily on pondweeds, eelgrass, other aquatic plants and grass found in shallow water and in fields and meadows.


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