American Wigeon


Common Name: American Wigeon

Class:  Aves

Order: Anseriformes

Family: Anatidae

Genus: Anas

Species: Anas americana





The American Wigeon is part of the Anatidae family which falls under the order Anseriformes which includes many waterfowl including other ducks, geese and swans.


The male American Wigeon during breeding season is an overall pinkish-brown bird with a white forehead, green iridescent patch behind the eye and a gray cheek and bill. The ends of the wings and the tail are black and their legs and feet are a dark gray color. Females are plain compared to male because they are a splotchy brown gray color. Males in their first year and during the non-breeding season look much like the female except they are usually more brightly colored.


The American Wigeon's breeding range stretches from Alaska and across the western provinces of Canada into some of the northern states of the United States. This duck can be found during the breeding season in shallow water bodies and also in upland habitats where they can find a variety of plants and insects to feed off of.  During the migratory season they use similar habitats but will be found in more brackish waters occasionally, eating very similar food items as they did during breeding season. During the non-breeding season these ducks can be found in the southern United States from California to the eastern seaboard and down to southern Mexico.




American Wigeons spend a great deal of time outside of water foraging in open areas like agricultural fields which makes them strong walkers. Before non-breeding season the American Wigeon forms pair bonds, which they will keep all winter and then will travel with their mate to their breeding grounds. Once they have reached the breeding grounds the female will build her nest away from the water and near an open area which will have some cover to conceal her nest. The number of eggs laid can range from 3 to 12 where a normal American Wigeon nest will include about 8. These eggs will hatch precocial chicks that after a day can walk and forage for themselves. The female will accompany the chicks to protect them and show them appropriate foraging sites.




The American Wigeon is normally found in Western New York during the migratory season but is sometimes seen outside of that time because of the close proximity of a smaller breeding population in northern Lake Ontario. If an American Wigeon is seen one can usually find them in the Niagara River, Iroquois NWR and also in the Batavia Wastewater Plant.


Birds of Western New York is brought to you by the Institute for the Study of Human-Animal Relations at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.