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American Wigeon

From Opus

Adult male and femalePhoto © by LeslieSimi Valley, California, USA, 2 November 2003
Adult male and female
Photo © by Leslie
Simi Valley, California, USA, 2 November 2003
Mareca americana


[edit] Identification

Male in breeding plumage: Body shows pinkish-brown flanks and breast, white belly and body side just in front of the undertail coverts, black undertail coverts. Head and neck is greyish with green eye patch and a whitish crown stripe. Wings have white upper secondary coverts, speculum dark green bordered in black; on underside white axillaries and middle coverts
Male in eclipse plumage mainly like female.

Female in the lead, rest are malesPhoto © by tehagSan Diego, California USA, 20 October 2008
Female in the lead, rest are males
Photo © by tehag
San Diego, California USA, 20 October 2008

Female: belly white, breast and flanks are light brown (or rust-orange) in contrast to grey neck and head, which mostly shows darker mask around the eye than Eurasian Wigeon. White axillaries and underwing middle coverts as in male; upperside of wing with very dark speculum, brownish-grey secondary coverts that most often are whitish at the rear, rarely just as white as the coverts on a male.

[edit] Similar Species

Eurasian Wigeon, Chiloe Wigeon. Eurasian Wigeon has grey axillaries and middle coverts in all plumages (beware of influences of bad light), and less contrast between grey on neck and brownish on body.

[edit] Distribution

Alaska south throughout most of Canada and western United States. Winters to north-west South America. Occasional in Eurasia.

[edit] Taxonomy

This is a monotypic species[1]. The closest relative of this species seems to be Chiloe Wigeon and not Eurasian Wigeon[2].

Formerly placed in the genus Anas.

[edit] Habitat

Breeds in short-grass and other prairie in the vicinity of shallow wetlands. On migration and winter, forages in marshes, fields, and shallow waters.

[edit] Behaviour

A dabbling duck, but more likely to be grazing on fields than most other Anas ducks.

[edit] Diet

The diet includes vegetable matter, only females in early breeding will eat large amounts of non-vegetarian food.

[edit] Breeding

Seven to ten eggs is most common, with wider variations possible. Eggs are creamy-yellow to white and nest is in grassy/scrubby areas near water.

[edit] Vocalisation

The male has a weak clear whistle in three syllables: wee-whee-whoe (middle is higher pitched), whereas the female has a low growl qua-ack.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from
  2. SACC baseline read October 2009
  3. Beaman, M., S. Madge, K.M. Olsen. 1998. Fuglene i Europa, Nordafrika og Mellemøsten. Copenhagen, Denmark: Gads Forlag, ISBN 87-12-02276-4
  4. Mini, A. E., E. R. Harrington, E. Rucker, B. D. Dugger, and T. B. Mowbray (2014). American Wigeon (Mareca americana), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.
  5. Carboneras, C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). American Wigeon (Mareca americana). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 21 March 2019).
  6. González, J., H. Düttmann, and M. Wink (2009). Phylogenetic relationships based on two mitochondrial genes and hybridization patterns in Anatidae. Journal of Zoology 279 (3):310-318.

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