Eurasian wigeon

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The Eurasian wigeon (Mareca penelope) belongs to the family Anatidae.

The Eurasian wigeon is distributed in Europe and Asia. In rare occasions they are seen in United States.


  • Scientific Name: Mareca penelope
  • Common Name: Eurasian wigeon
  • Other names: widgeon; Eurasian widgeon; Anas penelope;
  • French: Canard siffleur; German: Pfeifente; Spanish: Silb√≥n europeo;
  • Family: Anatidae › Anseriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: Linnaeus, 1758
Previously Mareca penelope was placed under genus Anas. It has been moved under genus Mareca. (del Hoyo and Collar 2014).


The Eurasian wigeon is a medium sized bird. The male bird is larger than the female. The male bird measures 45 to 50 cm in length and weighs 600 to 1,000 grams. The female wigeon weighs 500 to 800 grams. The wingspan is between 75 to 85 cm.

The female wigeon has a dull light brown plumage. The breeding male wigeon has grey flanks and back, with a black rear end and a dark green speculum.

There is a bright white patch on the upper wings, obvious in flight or at rest. The breast region is pinkish, belly is white and the chestnut colored head has a creamy crown.
Indian birds - Eurasian wigeon - Mareca penelope
Indian birds - Eurasian wigeon - Mareca penelope

Alpsdake | CC BY-SA 3.0 as on 9/15/18


In the non-breeding season, Eurasian wigeon species inhabit marshes, swamps, freshwater lakes, brackish and saline lagoons, flooded grasslands, mudflats and estuaries.

Breeding wigeon birds prefer shallow lakes and water bodies with submerged, floating and emerging vegetation.

Feeding habits

The Eurasian wigeon species are mainly diurnal feeders. These birds are vegetarians and feed on plant matter like leaves, shoots, seeds, grasses, water vegetation and algal matter.


The Eurasian wigeon species breed during the summer months. They nest close to water, well hidden in scrub or vegetation. They line shallow depression on the ground with vegetation for nest.


In Europe, Eurasian wigeon species are distributed from along Iceland, north England and north Europe. In Asia, they spread along the north Asia to Pacific coast.

During wintering they move to southern Europe, southern Asia, Indian Subcontinent, north and central Africa. In rare occasions they are found on the mid-Atlantic and Pacific coasts of United States of America.

Movement Patterns

These bird species are migratory birds, leaving the breeding grounds, they migrate southwards in Europe and Asia. For breeding these wigeon species migrate northwards during March-April.

Status and conservation

The global population of Eurasian wigeon species is estimated to number 2,800,000 to 3,300,000 adult individuals. The overall trend is decrease in population.

Breeding sites are disturbed by water sports and human movement. Draining of the wetlands, pollution, marshland reclamation are the immediate threats to these birds. In some countries the eggs are harvested and in some regions these wigeon species are still hunted.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the Eurasian wigeon species and has listed them as of "Least Concern".
Biological classification of Mareca penelope
Species:M. penelope
Binomial name:Mareca penelope
Distribution:Indian Subcontinent, Europe and Asia, rare visitor in the United States;
Feeding habits:leaves, stems, seeds, grasses and aquatic vegetation;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

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Author: Andreas Trepte, | License: CC BY-SA 2.5
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