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Immature female American Widgeon

Photos © John White

American Wigeon
Anas americana

The American Wigeon is a common and widespread dabbling duck which breeds in all but the extreme north of Canada and Alaska. 

This dabbling duck is migratory and winters farther south than its breeding range, in the southern half of the United States, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and the Mid-Atlantic coastal region,and further south into Central America and northwestern South America. It is highly gregarious outside of the breeding season and will form large flocks.

The breeding male has pinkish flanks and breast back, with a black rear end and a brilliant white patch on their wings behind their dark green speculum, obvious in flight or at rest. It has a greyish head with a green auricular and a whitish crown stripe. Their belly is also white. The females are light brown, with plumage much like a female Mallard. The wing patch behind the speculum is gray.

It is a bird of open wetlands, such as wet grassland or marshes with some taller vegetation, and usually feeds by dabbling for plant food or grazing, which it does very readily. It nests on the ground, near water and under cover. It lays 6-12 creamy white eggs. Flocks will often contain American Coots.

This is a noisy species. The male has a clear whistle in three syllables: whoee-whoe-whoe, whereas the female has a low growl qua-ack.