South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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American Wigeon

Anas americana

Length: 18 - 22 inches Wingspan: 30 - 35 inches Seasonality: Summer / Migrant
ID Keys: White forehead and crown, green eyestripe, blue-gray bill tipped in black.

American Wigeon - Anas americanaAlso known as the "Baldpate" by many hunters, because of its white forehead and crown.  The American Wigeon spends a great deal of time foraging on land, eating young plant shoots and seeds.  They are also much more likely than most dabbling ducks to be found in deep water, where they sometimes harass other duck species and steal their food.

Habitat: Prefers large inland marshes for breeding. Can be found in a variety of aquatic habitats during the winter and in migration, including ponds, lakes, rivers, fresh or saltwater marshes, and coastal estuaries.

Diet: Primarily aquatic plant material.  Will also eat insects, insect larvae, snails, seeds, and waste grains.

Behavior: Uses a wide variety of foraging techniques, from tipping to submerge the head, picking food items from the water's surface, feeding on dry land, and stealing food from other waterfowl.

Nesting: June and July

Breeding Map: Breeding Bird Survey Map

Song: American Wigeon song 

Migration: Summers throughout most of Canada, Alaska, and the northern third of the United States.  Winters along the North American coasts, the southern third of the United States, and points south. 

Similar Species: Male is generally distinctive, although the Eurasian Wigeon is somewhat similar.

Conservation Status: Generally stable.  Range has expanded eastward in recent decades.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, American Wigeon

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - American Wigeon"

3) American Wigeon

Photo Information: April 25th, 2003 -- Long Lake near Madison -- Terry L. Sohl


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Range Map - American Wigeon
South Dakota Status: Common migrant and uncommon Summer resident throughout the state.  Rare to uncommon in winter.