Conservation status Numbers reported wintering in North America (mainly in west) have increased in recent decades, reflecting better coverage or actual population increase. Possibly breeding at some undiscovered site on this continent.
Family Ducks and Geese
Habitat Marshes, lakes, bays, fields. In winter in North America often on marshy ponds with open ground nearby, or in flooded fields; also on shallow coastal estuaries and sheltered bays. Presence of American Wigeon is best key to good habitat for Eurasian Wigeon.
This Old World counterpart to our American Wigeon is a regular winter visitor to the Pacific lowlands from Canada to California. Small numbers are also seen in winter in the northeast and elsewhere. In parts of the Pacific Northwest, examination of any winter flock of wigeon is likely to reveal a male Eurasian among them, because the two wigeon species invariably flock together.

Feeding Behavior

Forages by grazing on land, by dabbling at surface of water, sometimes by submerging head and neck. May steal food brought to surface by other species such as coots or geese. May feed by day or night.


8-9, sometimes 6-12. Whitish to pale buff. Incubation is by female only, 24-25 days. Young: leave nest and go to water shortly after hatching. Young are tended by female but find all their own food. Age at first flight 40-45 days.


Leave nest and go to water shortly after hatching. Young are tended by female but find all their own food. Age at first flight 40-45 days.


Almost entirely plant material. Diet in North America not well known; in Europe, eats wide variety of leaves, stems, roots, seeds. Eats some insects in summer.


Known to breed only in Old World, but likely to be found nesting in North America eventually. Several males may compete with each other in courting one female, jostling for position. Displays of male include lifting tips of folded wings to expose white wing patch, raising head while giving whistled call, lowering bill to display buffy crown patch to female. Nest site is on ground under dense vegetation, usually near water. Nest is shallow depression lined with grass and with large amount of down.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

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Reaches North America from both east and west. Birds banded in Iceland have been recovered in eastern Canada. Regular in migration in western and southern Alaska. Birds wintering in Pacific lowlands from British Columbia to California probably come from eastern Siberia.

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Songs and Calls

Piping 2-note whistle, seldom heard in America.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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