American Wigeon            Anas americana



This cute little dabbling duck is a common winter visitor to our area. Arriving in late October, flocks have spent the whole winter in the cove at Boston Harbor. The male's colorful head sports a white crown, dark green ear stripe and light gray cheeks. The female is drab two-tone with gray head and brown body.

A close cousin, the Eurasian Wigeon, normally winters in the Aleutian Islands and Bering Sea. However both males and females will occasionally stray south to Puget Sound. The Eurasian Wigeon male has a dark rufus head with a muted white crown. Hybridization between the species regularly occurs.

While feeding along the shoreline they communicate with other flock members using a high whistling call. The call is very unusual and fun to listen to. The other interesting aspect of their behavior is that they feed heavily on marine vegetation, mainly Sea Lettuce, during their winter layover.  In addition they also come up on lawns to eat the grass.

The American Wigeon ranges throughout North America with winter sojourns to the southern U.S. and Mexico including the Caribbean Islands. They breed throughout the northern U.S. including as far north as northern Alaska and both the western and eastern parts of Canada.

They leave in early spring for their inland, freshwater breeding sites. Like other dabbling ducks they tend to nest earlier in the season, risking impacts from late winter storms. They often nest far from water, where they build a concealed nest of dry grass and plant stems. Down is added as incubation progresses. Hatching occurs after 23-25 days with the young immediately leaving the nest.