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Bird name:

American Wigeon

Anas americana




Geese and Ducks (Anatidae)





Euring 5

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Breeding Location:

Swamps, Marshes, freshwater

Breeding Type:

Monogamous, Solitary nester

Egg Colour:

Creamy white.

Number of Eggs:

6 - 12

Incubation Days:

22 - 25

Egg Incubator:


Nest Material:

Grasses and weeds lined with down.

Nest Location:

On ground.




American Wigeon: Medium-sized dabbling duck with pale blue bill and white shoulder patches that are visible in flight. Male is brown with white crown, large green ear patch extending to back of head, buff washed breast and sides and white belly. Female has a greyer-coloured head in contrast with the rest of the body, brighter and more rufous flanks and paler, greater wing coverts; grey bill; legs and feet are blue-grey to dark grey; brown eyes. Juveniles are mottled brown with grey heads, brown breasts and white bellies.

Range and Habitat

American Wigeon: Common throughout much of North America. Breeds from Alaska, northern Manitoba and southern Quebec south to Nevada, the Dakotas, Colorado, and the Great Lakes region, rarely farther east. Spends winters mainly along the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf coasts. Marshes, ponds, and shallow lakes are preferred habitats. Rare vagrant to Europe.

Breeding and Nesting

American Wigeon: The female selects a nesting site. The nest is made of grass and plant stems and lined with down, and is placed in the tall grass, or in shrubs or other plant cover. Six to twelve creamy white eggs are laid in the nest, often several hundred yards from water. Incubation ranges from 22 to 25 days and is carried out by the female.

Foraging and Feeding

American Wigeon: These birds are almost entirely vegetarian; they eat the stems and leafy parts of aquatic plants, leafy parts of upland grasses and clovers and leafy parts and seeds of crops. They also take insects and other aquatic invertebrates. They are opportunistic and aggressive feeders, often foraging in open water by stealing materials brought to the surface by diving ducks and coots.


American Wigeon: Makes distinctive whistled call "whew-whee-whew"; also quacks.

Similar Species

American Wigeon: Wigeon has rufous head and lacks green head stripe. Teal has chestnut head, dark bill, and lacks white crown stripe. Garganey has dark brown crown, long white eyebrow stripe, and dark bill.

The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
The upper front part of a bird.
The crown is the top part of the birds head.
Ear patchX
Consists of soft, loose-webbed feathers on the side of the bird's head below and behind the eyes.
The short feathers overlying the median secondary coverts on the top of the wing. They are located near the back and can be seen as the “first row” of feathers on the birds wing. They are also called marginal coverts and lesser secondary coverts.
4 and 6 letter alpha codesX

The four letter common name alpha code is is derived from the first two letters of the common first name and the first two letters of common last name. The six letter species name alpha code is derived from the first three letters of the scientific name (genus) and the first three letters of the scientific name (species). See (1) below for the rules used to create the codes..

Four-letter (for English common names) and six-letter (for scientific names) species alpha codes were developed by Pyle and DeSante (2003, North American Bird-Bander 28:64-79) to reflect A.O.U. taxonomy and nomenclature (A.O.U. 1998) as modified by Supplements 42 (Auk 117:847-858, 2000) and 43 (Auk 119:897-906, 2002). The list has been updated by Pyle and DeSante to reflect changes reported by the A.O.U from 2003 through 2006.


The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) was established in the mid-1990 s as a cooperative project among several federal agencies to improve and expand upon taxonomic data (known as the NODC Taxonomic Code) maintained by the National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

To find the ITIS page for a bird species go to the ITIS web site advanced search and report page at You can enter the TSN or the common name of the bird. It will return the ITIS page for that bird. Another way to obtain the ITIS page is to use the Google search engine. Enter the string ITIS followed by the taxonomic ID, for example "ITIS 178041" will return the page for the Allen's Hummingbird.

Parts of a Standing birdX
Head Feathers and MarkingsX
Parts of a Flying birdX