Scientific name: Anas penelope

Did you know: Wigeons are known for their distinctive calls, with the male’s clear, piercing whistle and the female’s low, growling sound.

What Do Wigeons Look Like? (How to Identify Them)

Wigeons are medium-sized ducks, recognised by their round heads and relatively small bills. The males boast a striking appearance with their chestnut heads and necks, complemented by a yellow forehead, pink breast, and a grey body. What sets them apart in flight is their white underbellies and, for the males, a prominent white wing patch. 

These ducks are a common sight, particularly in the UK, due to their significant wintering numbers.

Differences Between Male And Female Wigeons

Male Wigeons are easily distinguishable with their colourful plumage – a mix of chestnut, yellow, pink, and grey. The females, on the other hand, tend to have a more understated mottled brown or grey appearance, resembling female mallards but with a pointed tail. 

Both sexes share a common feature – a small grey bill tipped with black.

What Do Wigeons Eat?

Wigeons primarily dine on a vegetarian diet, consisting of about 80% grass leaves. Their diet also includes seeds, roots, stems, and aquatic plants, making them adept foragers in both terrestrial and aquatic environments.

Where Do Wigeons Live? (Including Migration Info)

Wigeons are versatile in their habitat choices, ranging from marine and intertidal zones to wetlands and grasslands. The UK breeding population, relatively small, is concentrated in central and northern Scotland and northern England. 

However, the UK sees a significant influx of Wigeons in winter, migrating from Iceland, Scandinavia, and Russia, transforming the UK into a major wintering ground for these birds.

Bird Calls & Songs (The Unique Voices of Wigeons)

The Wigeon’s vocalisations are as distinctive as their plumage. The male’s call is a clear, piercing whistle, easily heard both in flight and on the ground, often described as a ‘pjiew pjiew’ sound. Females communicate with a lower, throaty growl, akin to a ‘rawr’, adding to the symphony of sounds in their habitats.

Fun Wigeon Facts (Kid Friendly)

  • Wigeons can fly in tight formations, creating a spectacular display in the winter skies.
  • A Wigeon’s wingspan ranges between 75 and 86 cm.
  • They have an average lifespan of 3 years.
  • Wigeons can be found in a variety of habitats including freshwater areas, farmlands, and coastal wetlands.
  • The Wigeon’s diet is largely vegetarian, consisting of leaves, stems, grass seeds, and sedges.
  • They are known for their unique feeding technique, dabbling at the water’s surface.
  • Wigeons are highly sociable outside of breeding season, gathering in large groups.
  • The male Wigeon is often referred to as the ‘baldpate’ by hunters and bird enthusiasts.

Facts About The Wigeon

Diet: Aquatic plants, grasses, roots.
Bird Family: Ducks, geese and swans
Length: 45-51cm
Wingspan: 75-86cm
Weight: 500-900g
Scientific Name: Anas penelope

The Wigeon Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

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