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American Wigeon


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.


Latin: Mareca americana

Average length: M 20", F 19"

Average weight: M 1.8 lbs., F 1.6 lbs.


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. 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.

American Wigeon Range Map

Food Habits

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


The American Wigeon can be found all over North America. Their breeding grounds stretch from Alaska across the tundras of Canada all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. The American Wigeon can be found in their wintering habitats from the American Northwest to central Mexico, from the southern prairie pothole region through the Gulf Coast and from New York to the Bahamas close to the Atlantic shoreline.

Wigeon Population

Migration 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 coast of the Gulf of Mexico. In the Mississippi Flyway, wetlands and lakes provide important wintering habitat, as well as extensive marshes of the Louisiana Gulf coast. 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).