The Eurasian wigeon, also known as widgeon (Mareca penelope), called Bläsand in Skåne, is one of three species of wigeon in the dabbling duck genus Mareca. It is common and widespread within its range.
It breeds in the northernmost areas of Europe and Asia. It is the Old World counterpart of North America's American wigeon. It is strongly migratory and winters further south than its breeding range. It migrates to southern Asia and Africa.
In Great Britain and Ireland, the Eurasian wigeon is common as a winter visitor, but scarce as a breeding bird in Scotland, the Lake District, the Pennines and occasionally further south, with only a handful of breeding pairs in Ireland. It can be found as an uncommon winter visitor in the United States on the mid-Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
It is a rare visitor to the rest of the United States except for the Four Corners and the southern Appalachians.
Range map from www.oiseaux.net - Ornithological Portal Oiseaux.net
www.oiseaux.net is one of those MUST visit pages if you're in to bird watching. You can find just about everything there
Geographical distribution of Eurasian wigeon - Click HERE for full size map
By Cephas - BirdLife International. 2017. Mareca penelope (amended version of 2016 assessment).
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22680157A111892532. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-1.RLTS.T22680157A111892532.en.
Downloaded on 30 June 2018., CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=70386537
The Eurasian wigeon was described by Linnaeus in 1758 in the 10th edition of his Systema Naturae under the binomial name Anas penelope. Anas is the Latin for "duck", and penelope refers to a duck that was supposed to have rescued Penelope when she was thrown into the sea.
Her name derives from Ancient Greek πήνη pene, "braid" and ὤψ ops "appearance", from the ruse she used to deter suitors while her husband Ulysses was absent.
Egg, Collection Museum Wiesbaden
By Klaus Rassinger und Gerhard Cammerer, Museum Wiesbaden - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
This dabbling duck is 42–52 cm long with a 71–80 cm wingspan, and a weight of 500–1,073 g. The breeding male has grey flanks and back, with a black rear end, a dark green speculum and a brilliant white patch on upper wings, obvious in flight or at rest. It has a pink breast, white belly, and a chestnut head with a creamy crown.
In non-breeding (eclipse) plumage, the drake looks more like the female. The female is light brown, with plumage much like a female American wigeon. It can be distinguished from most other ducks, apart from American wigeon, on shape.
However, that species has a paler head and white axillaries on its underwing. The female can be a rufous morph with a redder head, and a gray morph with a more gray head.
Vejbystrand, Sweden - April 2021
Vejbystrand, Sweden - April 2021
Length: 51 cm
Wingspan: 75 to 86 cm
Weight: 500 to 900 g
Longevity: 18 years
• Medium-sized dabbling duck
• Blue bill with black nail
• Legs and feet dark grey
• Dull green speculum on secondaries
• White belly
• American Wigeon is structurally and behaviourally very similar. Males differ in having pinkish flanks, a white forehead stripe, and a larger and more obvious iridescent green patch behind the eye. Female and juvenile plumages virtually identical; best distinction is the white axillaries, visible when the wing is lifted during preening or in flight, while in close views, the secondary coverts are paler in American Wigeon.
• Orange-brown head with yellow-buff forehead stripe; often (but not always) a small iridescent green patch just behind the eye
• White secondary coverts
• Pink breast
• Grey flanks, mantle, and axillaries
• Scapulars striped white, black and grey
• Black hindquarters
• During eclipse in summer, like females except retaining the white forewing patch
• Mottled dark brown body plumage with
• Rustier flanks
• Contrasting with paler head and neck
• Dusky eye patch
• Secondary coverts greyer than male
• Similar to adult female
• First-winter males similar to adult males but lack the white forewing patch until late winter or spring
Flock of 6 birds flying in a kind of "displaying" way over the lake.
Behaviour and habitat
The Eurasian wigeon is a bird of open wetlands, such as wet grassland or marshes with some taller vegetation, and usually feeds by dabbling for plant food or grazing, which it does very readily. It nests on the ground, near water and under cover. It is highly gregarious outside of the breeding season and will form large flocks.
They will join with flocks of the American wigeon in the United States, and they also hybridize with them. This is a noisy species. The male has a clear whistle that sounds like: "pjiew pjiew", whereas the female has a low growl : "rawr".
The Eurasian wigeon is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies. Its conservation status is Least Concern.