"Widgeon" redirects here. For other uses, see Widgeon (disambiguation).
Male (rear) and female (front) Eurasian wigeons.
Recorded Dorset, England
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Anas
Subgenus: Mareca

The wigeons or widgeons are dabbling ducks in the genus Anas.


Male (front) and female (rear) American wigeons.
Male (rear) and female (front) Chiloé wigeons.

There are three extant species: the Eurasian wigeon (Anas penelope), the American wigeon (A. americana) and the Chiloé wigeon (A. sibilatrix). A fourth species, the Amsterdam wigeon (Anas marecula), became extinct in the 19th century. The wigeons are closely related to the gadwall and the falcated duck.[1][2]

All three wigeons are similarly shaped, with a steep forehead and bulbous rear to the head. Males have a distinctive breeding plumage, in their eclipse plumage they resemble females, which are similar in appearance year-round. The three species' closest relatives within the genus Anas are the gadwall and the falcated duck.[1] All three wigeon species hybridise in captivity[3] while American and Eurasian wigeons hybridise in the wild.[4] An American wigeon × mallard hybrid has also been recorded.[5]

The American wigeon was formerly called the baldpate by ornithologists, and some people still use that name, especially hunters.

The diet of the wigeon consists mainly of grass leaves (~80%), other food types eaten are seeds (~10%) and roots and stems (~5%).[6]


  1. 1 2 Johnson, KP; Sorenson, MD (1999). "Phylogeny and biogeography of dabbling ducks (genus: Anas): A comparison of molecular and morphological evidence" (PDF). The Auk. 116 (3): 792–805. doi:10.2307/4089339.
  2. Gonzalez, J.; Düttmann, H.; Wink, M. (2009). "Phylogenetic relationships based on two mitochondrial genes and hybridization patterns in Anatidae". Journal of Zoology. 279: 310–318. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.2009.00622.x.
  3. Jiguet, Frédéric (1999). "Photo-forum: hybrid American Wigeons". Birding World. 12 (6): 247–52.
  4. Carey, Geoff J. (1993). Hybrid male wigeon in East Asia Hong Kong Bird Report 1992 160-6
  5. Fedynich, Alan M. & Rhodes, Olin E., Jr. (1993). "Mallard × American Wigeon Hybrid on the Southern High Plains of Texas". The Southwestern Naturalist. 38: 179. doi:10.2307/3672079.
  6. Owen, Myrfyn; Thomas, G. J. (1979-01-01). "The Feeding Ecology and Conservation of Wigeon Wintering at the Ouse Washes, England". Journal of Applied Ecology. 16 (3): 795–809. doi:10.2307/2402854. JSTOR 2402854.

Further reading

Photographs of hybrid wigeons can be seen here and here.

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