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Length 42-51 cm (13.5 in), wingspan 73-82 cm (32 in), weight 415-970 g.
 Adult male
 Adult female
 Similar species
American Wigeon is structurally and behaviourally very similar. Males differ in having pinkish flanks, a white forehead stripe, and a larger and more obvious iridescent green patch behind the eye. Female and juvenile plumages virtually identical; best distinction is the white axillaries, visible when the wing is lifted during preening or in flight, while in close views, the secondary coverts are paler in American Wigeon.
A common summer visitor to the north of the Palearctic region, breeding in Iceland and northern Britain, throughout most of Scandinavia (rarely in Denmark and southern Sweden) and across northern Russia to the Pacific. More scattered populations breed in Poland and the Baltic States, and occasionally a few breed south of main range in southern Britain and eastern Europe.
Present in breeding range from April to September, and widespread in winter and found along many coastlines and floodplains from Iceland, the British Isles and Denmark south to the North African coast. Also around the Black and Caspian Seas and in southern Iraq and eastwards across temperate Asia. Small numbers occur in Subsaharan Africa and Arabia.
This is a monotypic species.
Breeds in dense cover close to freshwater lakes and marshes in open and sometimes wooded areas. Highly gregarious in winter around estuaries and on coastal grassland. Grazes on pastures as well as feeding in shallow water and often associates with Brent Geese and Whooper Swans in estuaries and on coastal farmland.
Grazes, often at night but also during the day, on land on short grass (often among sheep) and young crops like oilseed rape. Also dabbles and dives for plants and roots, including Zostera eelgrass on tidal mudflats.
The nest is laid beside a fresh water body in reeds, grass or heather. There is a single clutch laid between April and June. The ten to twelve eggs are plain creamy white or buff..
Rising whistling contact call is distinctive and unique.
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