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North Carolina Wildlife Species Information

American Wigeon - Anas americana

American Wigeon Anas americana

Identification Tips:

  • Length: 14 inches Wingspan: 34 inches
  • Large dabbling duck
  • Blue bill with black nail
  • White secondary coverts (grayer in females) and green speculum
  • White axillars
  • White belly
  • Juvenile similar to adult female

Adult male alternate:

  • Alternate plumage worn from fall through early summer
  • White crown
  • Green post-ocular stripe
  • Streaked gray lower face and neck
  • Rusty breast and flanks
  • Dark brown back
  • White patch at rear portion of flanks
  • Black undertail coverts

Adult male basic:

  • Similar to adult female but usually retains rusty flanks and white forewing

Adult female:

  • Blue bill with black tip
  • Mottled dark brown body plumage with rustier flanks contrasting with paler head and neck
  • Dusky eye patch

Similar species:

Adult in alternate plumage is unmistakable. All plumages distinguished from all other dabbling ducks (except Eurasian Wigeon) by pale gray or white secondary coverts in flight. At rest Wigeon have a distinctive steep forehead and gently sloped rear part of the head, as well as pale blue bills. The rare Eurasian Wigeon is very similar in female, immature and eclipse male plumages and is safely distinguished only in flight by its gray, not white, axillars, and sometimes by the lack of contrast between head and back plumage.

Length and wingspan from: Robbins, C.S., Bruun, B., Zim, H.S., (1966). Birds of North America. New York: Western Publishing Company, Inc.

Above information used courtesy of United States Geological Survey.

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