The Eurasian or European Wigeon (Anas penelope) is a common and widespread duck.
This dabbling duck is 42-50 cm long with a 71-80 cm wingspan.
The breeding male has grey flanks and back, with a black rear end and a brilliant white speculum (= distinctive wing patch) , obvious in flight or at rest. It has a pink breast, white belly, and a chestnut head with a yellowish crown stripe. In non-breeding (eclipse) plumage, the drake looks more like the female.
The female is light brown, with plumage much like a female Mallard.
It can be distinguished from most other ducks, apart from American Wigeon, on shape. However, that species has a paler head and white axillaries (feathers under the wing - the "armpit" or "wingpit" of a bird) on its underwing.
It breeds in the northernmost areas of Europe and Asia. It is the Old World counterpart of the North American American Wigeon. It is strongly migratory and winters further south than its breeding range. In Great Britain the Wigeon is common as a winter visitor, but scarce as a breeding bird in Scotland, the Lake District, the Pennines and occasionally further south. It can be found as an uncommon winter visitor in the United States, particularly on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
The Wigeon is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.
Behavior and Habitat
The Wigeon is a bird of open wetlands, such as wet grassland or marshes with some taller vegetation, and usually feeds by dabbling for plant food or grazing, which it does very readily.
It nests on the ground, near water and under cover. It is highly gregarious outside of the breeding season and will form large flocks.
Call / Vocalization:
This is a noisy species. The male has a clear whistle, whereas the female has a low growl.
- BirdLife International (2004). Anas penelope. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
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Diet / Feeding:
Ducks generally feed on larvae and pupae often found under rocks, as well as aquatic animals, plant material, seeds, small fish, snails and crabs.
Feeding Ducks ...
We all enjoy ducks and many of us offer them food to encourage them to come over and stay around - and it works! Who doesn't like an easy meal!
However, the foods that we traditionally feed them at local ponds are utterly unsuitable for them and are likely to cause health problems down the road. Also, there may be local laws against feeding this species of bird - so it's best to check on that rather than facing consequences at a later stage.
Please note that feeding ducks and geese makes them dependent on humans for food, which can result in starvation and possibly death when those feedings stop. If you decide to feed them, please limit the quantity to make sure that they maintain their natural ability to forage for food themselves - providing, of course, that natural food sources are available.
- Foods that can be fed to Ducks, Geese and Swans to survive cold winters and remain healthy when food is scarce in their environment.
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