File:Eurasian Wigeon.png
Male (rear) and female (front) Eurasian wigeons.
File:Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope) (W1CDR0001386 BD2).ogg
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Superorder: Galloanserae
Clade: Odontoanserae
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Subfamily: Anatinae
Tribe: Anatini
Genus: Mareca
Stephens, 1824


The wigeons or widgeons are dabbling ducks in the genus Mareca, which also includes the Gadwall and Falcated Duck.

The species now placed in this genus were formerly placed in the genus Anas. A molecular phylogentic study comparing mitochondrial DNA sequences published in 2009 found that the genus Anas, as then defined, was non-monophyletic.[1] Based on the published phylogeny, the genus Anas was split into four monophyletic genera with five extant species moved into the resurrected genus Mareca.[2]

The genus Mareca was introduced by the English naturalist James Francis Stephens in 1824. The type species is the Eurasian Wigeon.[3][4] The name of the genus is from the Brazilian-Portuguese word Marréco for a small duck.[5]


File:American Wigeon pair.png
File:Chiloe Wigeon.png

There are five extant species: the Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope), the American Wigeon (A. americana), the Chiloé Wigeon (A. sibilatrix), the Falcated Duck (A. falcata) and the Gadwall (A. strepera). A sixth species, the Amsterdam Wigeon (Anas marecula), became extinct in the 19th century. The wigeons are closely related to the Gadwall and the Falcated Duck.[6][7]

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.[citation needed] The three species' closest relatives within the genus Anas are the gadwall and the falcated duck.[6] All three wigeon species hybridise in captivity[8] while American and Eurasian wigeons hybridise in the wild.[9] An American Wigeon × Mallard hybrid has also been recorded.[10]

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

The diet of the wigeon consists mainly of grass leaves (~80%), other food types eaten are seeds (~10%) and roots and stems (~5%).[11]


Cladogram based on the analysis of Gonzalez and colleagues published in 2009.[1]


American Wigeon

Chiloé Wigeon

Eurasian Wigeon

Falcated Duck



  1. ^ a b 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. 
  2. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2017). "Screamers, ducks, geese & swans". World Bird List Version 7.3. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 23 July 2017. 
  3. ^ Stephens, James Francis (1824). General zoology, or Systematic natural history, by the late George Shaw. Volume 12 Part 2. London: Printed for G. Kearsley. p. 130. 
  4. ^ Mayr, Ernst; Cottrell, G. William, eds. (1979). Check-list of Birds of the World. Volume 1 (2nd ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 460. 
  5. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 241. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4. 
  6. ^ a b 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. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ Jiguet, Frédéric (1999). "Photo-forum: hybrid American Wigeons". Birding World. 12 (6): 247–52. 
  9. ^ Carey, Geoff J. (1993). Hybrid male wigeon in East Asia Hong Kong Bird Report 1992 160-6
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ 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. JSTOR 2402854. doi:10.2307/2402854. 

Further reading

External links

Photographs of hybrid wigeons can be seen here and here.

Eurasian Spoonbill This article is part of Project Bird Genera, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each genus, including made-up genera.
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