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American Wigeon Anas americana


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American Wigeon, male
credit: Donna Dewhurst

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Anatidae, Ducks and Geese view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has a striking head pattern with green stripe stretching back from eye, creamy white forehead and crown, and speckled gray face and neck. Body plumage is otherwise mainly pinkish buff, except for bold black and white vent. In flight, note striking white patch on upper surface of inner wing. ADULT FEMALE Has speckled gray head and neck (good for separation from female Eurasian) and otherwise orange-brown, finely marked body plumage, except for white belly. Bill and legs are gray. JUVENILE Similar to adult female.

Dimensions Length: 18-23" (46-58 cm)

Habitat Abundant. Nests beside tundra pools and northern marshes. Migrates south for winter, favoring open wetlands and adjacent grassland, and estuaries.

Observation Tips Large numbers winter in California's Central Valley.

Range New England, California, Rocky Mountains, Texas, Northwest, Plains, Great Lakes, Alaska, Western Canada, Florida, Mid-Atlantic, Southwest, Southeast, Eastern Canada

Voice Male utters a distinctive three-noted whistle, whi-whee-whew.

Discussion Medium-sized dabbling duck. Adult male breeding plumage is distinctive, but separation of other plumages from Eurasian Wigeon is a challenge. American's white axillaries ("armpits") are useful field marks at all times (gray in Eurasian). Forms sizeable flocks outside breeding season. Feeds on aquatic plants and also grazes grassland.