The American Wigeon (Mareca americana), is a species of dabbling duck found in North America. Formerly assigned to Anas, this species is classified with the other wigeons in the dabbling duck genus Mareca. It is the New World counterpart of the Eurasian Wigeon. Mareca is from the Brazilian-Portuguese word Marréco for a small duck and americana refers to America.
The American Wigeon is a medium-sized bird; it is larger than a teal but smaller than a pintail. In silhouette, the wigeon can be distinguished from other dabblers by its round head, short neck, and small bill.
The breeding male (drake) is a striking bird with a mask of green feathers around its eyes and a cream colored cap running from the crown of its head to its bill. In flight, drakes can be identified by the large white shoulder patch on each wing. These white patches flash as the birds bank and turn. In non-breeding (eclipse) plumage, the drake looks more like the female.
The hens are much less conspicuous, having primarily gray and brown plumage. Both sexes have a pale blue bill with a black tip, a white belly, and gray legs and feet. [Wikipedia]
A common and increasingly abundant duck, the American Wigeon breeds in northwestern North America and is found throughout the rest of the continent in migration and in winter. Its small bill and the male’s white forehead, as well as certain aspects of nesting and feeding behavior, distinguish this species from other dabbling ducks. [All About Birds]
American Wigeon Facts [All About Birds]
- The American Wigeon was formerly known as “Baldpate” because the white stripe resembled a bald man’s head.
- The American Wigeon’s short bill enables it to exert more force at the bill tip than other dabbling ducks, thus permitting efficient dislodging and plucking of vegetation.
- The America Wigeon is the dabbling duck most likely to leave the water and graze on vegetation in fields. However, feeding in fields on grain, such as corn, is rather rare.
- The oldest American Wigeon was at least 21 years, 4 months old.
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