American Wigeon Drake

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Birds In Flight

Size: 15" from bill to tail.

Price: $132.99


American Wigeons are partial to freshwater shallows and marshes and occur along exposed shorelines and lakes. A medium-sized (48cm) duck, the American Wigeon has grayish or brownish black plumage and a white belly. Breeding males display a shiny, white crown offset by an iridescent-green smudge flaring behind the eye. Breeding males display white wing coverts (leading edges of the wings). Adult females and immature birds display a speckled brown head that contrasts with the rusty brown breast and flanks. An iridescent-green speculum (bright swatch on the leading edges of the wings), a short, bluish bill and dark gray legs are present in all plumages.


American Wigeons forage in both freshwater and on land. In freshwater, they primarily feed on the leafy parts of aquatic plants, aquatic insects, snails and other aquatic invertebrates. They forage by picking food from the surface of freshwater shallows (ponds and marshes). By "dabbling," (floating on the water's surface and abruptly pivoting headfirst and downward into the water while raising their hindquarters above water) these ducks are able to reach submerged aquatic plants and animals on the muddy bottom. On land, these ducks graze on grasses, grains and seeds of open areas.


American Wigeon females build their nests in wallowed out ground depressions (scrapes) on dryer portions of their habitat. Concealed by high grass, the nest is filled with dry grasses and plant stems. Lined with fine materials, the soft nest is safe haven for the 6-12, 54mm, plain white eggs of the clutch. The female alone incubates the clutch for 23-25 days as the pair-bond with the male lasts only through the first or second week of incubation. As incubation progresses, additional down is added to the nest to insulate the clutch. Young birds fledge in 37-48 days post-hatching and are reared by the female. If the nest is threatened, the female feigns injury to distract the threat while the offspring scatter. When the young are well hidden, the female flies away.

Migration Status:

Breeding in the far north, these ducks occur throughout central Alaska, most of Canada and southward into the midwestern United States. They winter along the coasts of the United States (Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico), and south through Mexico, the Bahamas and northern South America. Within the preserve, 1 American Wigeon was detected during the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve Bird Inventory in the Yukon River Valley (YV) ecological unit, June 1999 and 2000. (However, this number does not accurately reflect the density of these ducks in the Preserve since inventory methods do not adequately capture waterbirds. Many of the survey routes were not along streams or watercourses).


The female American Wigeon makes low quacking or harsh growling "waarrr" calls. A distinctive, airy, kazoo-like whistle characterizes the call of the male, "wi-WIW-weew." .

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