One of only three wigeon species in the world, the American Wigeon (Mareca americana, formerly Anas americana) is a medium sized dabbler is one-of-a-kind with the drake’s distinctly adorned “bald-pate” white forehead extending to the crown. Another distinctive feature in drakes is the broad green brushstroke from the eyes to the back of the neck, light brown breast, and white coverts. Both sexes have a stubby, goose-like blue-gray bill with black tips. Grey legs, white underbelly, green speculum. In flight, large white upper wing patches seen while banking are a tell-tale sign. Hen’s plumage on the head is gray speckled. Juveniles and molted drakes resemble hens with similar plumage.
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American wigeons can be extremely vocal and has distinctive, high-pitched “slow” whistle that can be heard throughout the year. The three-segmented call sounds nasally, and even described as “kazoo-like” whistling. Wigeons are responsive to calling.
Breeding season habitats for American Wigeon ranges from Alaska, Canada, and into Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and North and South Dakota. Hens will nest on dry ground, usually in field close to ponds, wetlands, and marshes. During this season, their diet consists mainly on terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates. Any other time of the year their diet is dominated by plant materials, usually leaves and stems, where their bills are readily adept. American Widgeons often forage in groups of other duck species, stealing food as it becomes available.
Their wintering zone occurs along the entirety of the west coast, from Alaska to Mexico, through the southern half of the United States. During hunting season, American wigeons will change their daily routine, hiding throughout the day in dense vegetation, feeding in fields at night.