American Wigeon

Anas americana
American Wigeon specimens on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

Known by duck hunters as the “Baldpate,” the American Widgeon may be readily identified by the large white forehead patch which gives this species its nickname. A medium-sized (18-23 inches) species of duck, the male American Widgeon is also characterized by a large green head patch, brown sides, and large white wing patches visible in flight. The female is less ornate, being mostly brown overall with less white on the wings. American Widgeons breed primarily from west-central Alaska east to the Hudson Bay, and from just south of the tundra in Canada south to the upper Great Plains. Recently, this species has expanded eastward, and smaller breeding areas may be encountered along the Great Lakes, around the St. Lawrence River, and in the Maritime Provinces in eastern Canada. This species migrates south for the winter, where it may be found along the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf coasts of the U.S., in the southern Plains, and points south. The American Widgeon breeds in shallow wetlands throughout its breeding range. Preferring freshwater in summer, this species is less constrained in winter, when it may be found on rivers and lakes or in saltwater estuaries and bays. American Widgeons feed primarily on aquatic plants and grasses in winter, but they may also consume insects and other small invertebrates during the breeding season. American Widgeons may be seen either on land or in the water, where they may be observed foraging for food. This species may also be observed taking off straight up from the water or undertaking straight, swift flights on migration or between breeding or foraging grounds. American Widgeons are most active during the day.

DC Information

Common migrant and winter visitor from September to May. Found in tidewater areas, ponds, and lakes. The white crown margined with green distinguishes the male from the brown-headed female.

Specimen Information

This information is for the bird on the left.
Date: Before 1858
Collected By: JK Townsend
Locality: Potomac River
Sex: Female
Catalog ID: 12768
This information is for the bird on the right.
Date: 3/29/1911
Collected By: Dr Carl DeW Brownell, USN
Locality: Las Animas, CO
Sex: Male 
Catalog ID: 221832

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalization

Anas americana