American Wigeon

American Wigeon

webpage header of american wigeon


  • Common: American Wigeon
  • Scientific: Mareca americana (formerly Anas americana)


Conservation Status

  • State recognized as Indigenous

Species Information

The American wigeon, or “Baldpate,” is a widespread North American dabbling duck (Family: Anatidae). Dabbling ducks feed primarily at the surface rather than by diving. It winters in small numbers in the Hawaiian Islands. Wigeons are common across most of North America, with a breeding population estimated in excess of three million. While wigeons are dun-colored across most of the body, breeding males sport a bright white stripe across the crown of the head, bright green patches on either side of the head, and contrasting white and dark plumage on the rump. During the breeding season, males’ contrasting colors are used in courtship displays to attract females and discourage competing males. However, in winter, male plumage is much more similar to that of females, retaining the brown body coloration but changing to dark gray on the head and neck. Wigeons are the most vegetarian of dabbling ducks, eating the stems and leafy parts of aquatic plants, leafy parts of grasses, and leaves and seeds of some marsh and crop plants. Breeding females, however, feed largely on insects (including dragonflies and damselflies), mollusks, and crustaceans.


In North America, wigeons’ winter range extends across the central and southern United States, south through Mexico, and along the U.S. east coast as far north as Cape Cod. In Hawai‘i, they have been sighted throughout the Main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) but have not been recorded in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands


Wigeons winter in a wide range of habitats including freshwater marshes, rivers, lakes, impoundments, estuaries, bays, and agricultural lands that provide an abundance of emergent and submergent vegetation. In Hawai‘i, wigeons winter at Kanahā Pond State Wildlife Sanctuary and Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge on Maui, and near Waipi‘o on O‘ahu. Use of agricultural lands suggests flooded taro fields could attract wigeons. Some suitable habitat of these types is already protected, primarily wetlands within the bounds of wildlife refuges and sanctuaries.


Primary threats include the following:

  • Loss of wetland habitat to development.
  • Degradation of habitat due to pollution, hydrology alteration, or invasions by alien species.
  • West Nile virus or other avian diseases.

Plans & Projects 

Additional Resources 

For more information and references visit the DLNR State Wildlife Action Plan factsheets. DOFAWʻs species pages and State Wildlife Action Plan fact sheets are provided for general information and are not meant to be a citable, original source of data. If you are a student, researcher, or writer looking for a citable source, please explore the references below or find other original data sources, rather than citing these webpages. The references below were provided by the authors of the State Wildlife Action Plan fact sheets at the time of drafting:

  • Mowbray T. 1999. American wigeon (Anas americana). In The Birds of North America, No. 401 (Poole A, Gill F, editors.). Philadelphia, (PA): The Academy of Natural Sciences; and Washington DC: The American Ornithologists’ Union.