American wigeon — Ducks Unlimited Canada
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Know your waterfowl

American wigeon

Anas americana

American wigeon pair
American wigeon pair.

The American wigeon was formerly known as “Baldpate” because the white stripe on the head resembled a bald man’s head.


  • Medium-sized dabbling duck
  • Breeding male has white crown and green band stretching from its eye to the back of the head; white and green wing patches
  • Female is brown and grey with a white wing patch that is more dull and reduced than the male’s


  • Pair formation begins during migration to wintering grounds and continues during winter
  • Often nest a considerable distance from water
  • The hen lays one egg a day for an average clutch of 8-9 eggs
  • Hen alone incubates eggs for about 25 days and young leave the nest with the hen within 24 hours of hatching

Habitat: Shallow freshwater wetlands, including ponds and rivers.

Range: Breeds in northwestern North America. Winters in southern Alaska and B.C. and throughout much of the United States and Mexico; also found in the Carribean and along the Pacific coast of central America.

Diet: The American wigeon is the most vegetarian of the dabbling ducks—the specialized structure of it’s bill enables it to exert great force at the tip of the bill, enhancing the bird’s ability to pluck vegetation.

During the non-breeding period, as much as 97-100% of its diet consists of plant material. Animal matter comprises 18-41% of its diet during breeding season.

Interesting Facts

  • Breeds further north than any other dabbler with the exception of the northern pintail

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