Wigeon: 21 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Amazing wigeon facts which are fun and informative to learn

American wigeons (Anas Americana) are North American birds, of a dabbling duck species that is usually found in North America. It belongs to the family of Anseriformes. The bird inhabits wet habitats, such as ponds, lakes, marshes, and rivers. However, the nest is built on dry lands with long vegetation to cover it. In winter, it migrates to other countries and usually prefers flooded fields, estuaries, impoundments, and tidal flats. Wigeon is a duck species that can swim on water and walk on land. They have also been raised or hunted in the wild for delicacy, and their meat has been priced hefty compared to chickens.

The most distinctive features of American wigeon birds are a green mask around the eyes and a white crown on the head. They have beautiful brown feathers. The breeding season of North American wigeon birds is from April to August. Males generally fight with each other on the wintering grounds to mate with females. This bird displays various courtships to attract the opposite sex.  Both genders take part in nest building and incubation of eggs. American wigeon birds feed on aquatic plants, seeds, and insects. They are also known as storm wigeon as they are simply an American wigeon with a white head.

To know more about the wigeon duck species, keep reading and also check out Eurasian wigeon facts and American wigeon facts.


Fact File

What do they prey on?

Aquatic Plants, Earthworms, Insects

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

3- 13 eggs

How much do they weigh?

18-47 oz (512–1,330 g)

How long are they?

16.5-23.2 in (42-59 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Green, Cream, White, Black, Brown, Gray

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Wetland Loss, Pollution, Hydrology Alteration, Invasive Species

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Open Wetlands, Lakes, Grasslands, Ponds


Canada, Alaska, North America





Scientific Name

Mareca Americana





Wigeon Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a wigeon?

The American wigeon is a type of dabbling duck species, which is a New World analogous to the Eurasian wigeon.

What class of animal does a wigeon belong to?

The American wigeon, also known as baldpate belongs to the Aves class of animal, from the phylum Chordata.

How many wigeons are there in the world?

The population size of American wigeons are estimated to be nearly 1.4 million breeding pairs.

Where does a wigeon live?

The breeding range of wigeons includes Canada, Alaska, Idaho, Colorado, Dakotas, Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, and the Atlantic coastal region. A large proportion of them breed on wetlands in the forest and river deltas of Alaska and Canada. The important wintering grounds include Washington's Puget Sound and the Central Valley of California. Other areas where numerous wigeon can be found include the Texas Panhandle, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Louisiana and Texas. These dabbling ducks are rare in western Europe but are present in great numbers in Great Britain and Ireland.

What is a wigeon's habitat?

It is a dabbling bird that inhabits open wetlands, including wet grasslands, marshes, lakes, bays, and fields with a great amount of taller vegetation. In the summer season, it can be found in inland marshes and sometimes at small ponds, whereas, in winter or migration season, it is mostly found in salt marshes, internal lakes or large deep lakes, ponds, and coastal estuaries. These habitats show that they prefer open water, unlike other dabbling ducks.

Who do wigeons live with?

The American wigeons are social animals. They live in large flocks. During migration, they form small flocks with other migrating birds, such as gadwalls, mallards, American coots, and other diving ducks.

How long does a wigeon live?

They can live up to 21 years.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season of these birds starts from August to early September or through winter. Their breeding range is from western Canada to Alaska. However, they also migrate to some other wintering grounds too. American wigeons are one of the North American birds that reach earliest to their breeding grounds. Most male and female wigeons already formed pairs at the end of February. Courtship displays involve swimming with head shoved onwards and submerging bill into the water. A unique display in this species is 'the burp' in which the males release shrilling sounds while hardening their top head feathers and bodies in an upright position. American wigeons are monogamous birds. Males of this species generally abide with females through migration, selection of nesting sites, building the nest, and egg-laying. During the incubation period, Males leave the females alone to join flocks of other males and non-breeding females to molt. American wigeons are secretive ducks, therefore there is not much information available regarding their breeding habits. The nesting site in this species is located on a dry surface, up to 1312.3 ft (400 m) from the coastline, and covered in long vegetation. A single female usually lays up to 12 eggs at a time. The incubation of eggs occurs over roughly 25 days. The female then moves the precocial ducklings from the nest to a suitable habitat. Some females even make groups of their ducklings. Ducklings are capable to feed themselves. They consume mostly aquatic vegetation. Generally, females leave their ducklings after six weeks or remain at the site to molt.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of wigeons is of Least Concern according to the IUCN.

Wigeon Fun Facts

What do wigeons look like?

Wigeon ducks possess a brown with gray coloration over its body.

The male American wigeon has a green mask around its eyes and a cream or white crown extended from its head to its bill. The belly of a male is also white. During the flight, the male can be easily characterized by the big shoulder spot on each wing. These white spots flash as the birds flank and spin. In non-breeding birds, the plumage of a male is darker than a female. The female has gray or brown plumage. Both genders possess a dull blue bill with a black tip and gray-colored legs and feet. The speculum patch is also gray. American wigeon can be distinguished from the Eurasian wigeon by shape and head and neck color, especially in females.

How cute are they?

American wigeons are adorable animals and people love to watch them, especially when they swim in the water.

How do they communicate?

They communicate with vocalizations. However, females try to scare off with various distraction displays, such as stimulating wing injury.

How big is a wigeon?

The size range of an American wigeon is 16.5-23.2 in (42-59 cm), which is 15 times bigger than an African pygmy goose.

How fast can a wigeon fly?

The speed of an American wigeon is 32.3 mph (52 kph).

How much does a wigeon weigh?

The weight range of an American wigeon is 18-47 Oz  (512–1,330 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male American wigeon is known as a drake, while the female special name is a hen.

What would you call a baby wigeon?

The baby wigeon is generally known as a duckling.

What do they eat?

The American wigeon birds feed on both aquatic and terrestrial plants, including stems and leaves. Some of the plant species are cattail, duckweed, water milfoil, wigeon grass, and sedge. Apart from these, they also eat seeds of barley, clover, grass, and wheat. With their small and short bill, they pick at vegetation from the water's surface or swim to reach underwater vegetation. In the breeding season, they feed on insects and small aquatic vertebrates.

Are they poisonous?

No, American wigeons are non-poisonous ducks.

Would they make a good pet?

People who like ducks will definitely love to keep an American wigeon as a pet. They have beautiful feathers and a unique green eye patch.

Did you know...

One of the interesting American wigeon facts is that it was called 'baldpate' because of the white stripe on its head which resembles a bald man.

Different types of wigeon

Presently, there are three species of wigeon ducks- the Eurasian wigeon, the American wigeon, and the Chiloe wigeon. A fourth type, known as the Amsterdam wigeon got extinct in the 19th century.

What does a wigeon sound like?

The American wigeon is a loud bird. It can be smoothly identified by its unique calls. The male emits a three-note whistle, which is 'whoee-whoe-whoe', whereas the female produces a rough grunt and quack.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including harlequin duck facts and muscovy duck facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable duck coloring pages.



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