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Eurasian Wigeon

Mareca penelope

Length: 18 to 20 inches Wingspan: 30 inches Seasonality: Extremely rare visitor
ID Keys: Rusty head with buffy crown stripe and gray body (male)

Eurasian Wigeon - Mareca penelopeThe Eurasian Wigeon is, not surprisingly, normally found in Europe and Asia, although strays regularly reach both U.S. coasts in winter.  They are only very rare visitors to the interior of North America, with The Birds of South Dakota (SDOU, 2001) only showing three observations within South Dakota.  Observations have been increasing elsewhere in North America in recent decades, however.  A drake is pictured on the right while a hen is shown on the bottom of the page.

Habitat: Could be found in a variety of shallow-water habitats, including shallow marshes and ponds, flooded fields, and coastal salt marshes and estuaries.

Diet: Primarily feeds on plant material, and only occasionally will feed on insects.

Behavior: Feeds by dabbling or submerging its head in shallow water, or by walking on land.  Will harass certain species of diving waterfowl, stealing food from diving ducks as they return to the water's surface.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song: Musical whistling by the male, a croak or a quack from the female. 

Migration: Native to Europe and Asia, but strays may arrive from both west of North America and east of North America.  They are generally very rare visitors to the interior of the continent.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Eurasian Wigeon sightings

Similar Species: American Wigeon

Status: Observations have increased in recent decades in North America, although no breeding populations have been found.

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

2) WhatBird - Eurasian Wigeon

3) Audubon Guide - Eurasian Wigeon

Photo Information: Photo by Nick Ford - Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Eurasian Wigeon - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Extremely rare visitor, with only a handful of records in the state.
Additional Eurasian Wigeon Photos (coming soon!)