Eurasian wigeon

The Eurasian wigeon, also known as widgeon (Mareca penelope) is one of three species of wigeon in the dabbling duck genus Mareca. It is common and widespread within its range.

Calls recorded in Dorset


The Eurasian wigeon was described by Linnaeus in 1758 in the 10th edition of his Systema Naturae under the binomial name Anas penelope.[2][3] 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.[4]


This dabbling duck is 42–52 cm (17–20 in) long with a 71–80 cm (28–31 in) wingspan, and a weight of 500–1,073 g (1.102–2.366 lb).[5][6] 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.[7] 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.[7]


Anas penelope MWNH 0970
Egg, Collection Museum Wiesbaden

It breeds in the northernmost areas of Europe and Asia.[8] 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.[8] 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.[5][7]

Behaviour and habitat

Mareca penelope in flight s4
Two males and a female in flight

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.[5] 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.[1]


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Mareca penelope". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  2. ^ Linnaeus 1758
  3. ^ Mayr, E.; Cottrell, G.W., eds. (1979). Check-list of Birds of the World, Volume (1 2nd ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 462.
  4. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 46, 296. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  5. ^ a b c Floyd 2008
  6. ^ Dunning 1992
  7. ^ a b c Dunn & Alderfer 2006
  8. ^ a b Clements 2007



External links

American wigeon

The American wigeon (Mareca americana), also called a baldpate, is a species of dabbling duck found in North America. Formerly assigned to Anas, this species is classified with the other wigeons in the dabbling duck genus Mareca. It is the New World counterpart of the Eurasian wigeon. Mareca is from the Brazilian-Portuguese word Marréco for a small duck and americana refers to America.

Birding in Chennai

Housing more than 200 resident and wintering bird species, Chennai (formerly known as Madras) has long been a haven for bird watchers. It is the one of the few urban areas in India with diverse range of birds including greater flamingo, black baza, osprey, Eurasian eagle-owl, malabar barbet, Spot billed pelican and pied avocet can be seen. The following are some known birding hotspots in and around Chennai.

Falcated duck

The falcated duck or falcated teal (Mareca falcata) is a gadwall-sized dabbling duck from Asia.

Grazing marsh

Grazing marsh is a British Isles term for flat, marshy grassland in polders. It consists of large grass fields separated by fresh or brackish ditches, and is often important for its wildlife.

Grimwith Reservoir

Grimwith Reservoir is located in the Yorkshire Dales in North Yorkshire, England. It was originally built by the Bradford Corporation as one of eleven reservoirs in the Yorkshire Dales to supply fresh water to Bradford. It is the largest reservoir owned by Yorkshire Water in terms of water storage.

Holburn Lake and Moss

Holburn Lake and Moss is a nature reserve in Northumberland, England to the east of the village of Holburn. Nearby is St Cuthbert's Cave.

Holkham National Nature Reserve

Holkham National Nature Reserve is England's largest national nature reserve (NNR). It is on the Norfolk coast between Burnham Overy Staithe and Blakeney, and is managed by Natural England with the cooperation of the Holkham Estate. Its 3,900 hectares (9,600 acres) comprise a wide range of habitats, including grazing marsh, woodland, salt marsh, sand dunes and foreshore. The reserve is part of the North Norfolk Coast Site of Special Scientific Interest, and the larger area is additionally protected through Natura 2000, Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar listings, and is part of both an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and a World Biosphere Reserve. Holkham NNR is important for its wintering wildfowl, especially pink-footed geese, Eurasian wigeon and brant geese, but it also has breeding waders, and attracts many migrating birds in autumn. A number of scarce invertebrates and plants can be found in the dunes, and the reserve is one of the only two sites in the UK to have an antlion colony.

This stretch of coast originally consisted of salt marshes protected from the sea by ridges of shingle and sand, and Holkham's Iron Age fort stood at the end of a sandy spit surrounded by the tidal wetland. The Vikings navigated the creeks to establish Holkham village, but access to the former harbour was stopped by drainage and reclamation of the marshes between the coast and the shingle ridge which started in the 17th century, and was completed in 1859. The Holkham estate has been owned by the Coke family, later Earls of Leicester since 1609, and their seat at Holkham Hall is opposite the reserve's Lady Anne's Drive entrance. The 3rd Earl planted pines on the dunes to protect the pastures reclaimed by his predecessors from wind-blown sand. The national nature reserve was created in 1967 from 1,700 hectares (4,200 acres) of the Holkham Estate and 2,200 hectares (5,400 acres) of foreshore belonging to the Crown.

The reserve has over 100,000 visitors a year, including birdwatchers and horse riders, and is therefore significant for the local economy. The NNR has taken steps to control entry to the fragile dunes and other areas important for their animals or plants because of the damage to sensitive habitats that could be caused by unrestricted access. The dunes are an essential natural defence against the projected rises in sea level along this vulnerable coast.

Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary

Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary is a bird sanctuary located in Jamnagar district of Gujarat, India. About 300 species of migratory birds have been recorded here.

Lake Karataş

Lake Karataş (Turkish: Karataş Gölü), also known as Lake Bahçeözü, is a fresh water lake in Burdur Province, Turkey.The lake is situated in Karamanlı ilçe (district) of Burdur Province at 37°23′N 29°58′E. It is a shallow lake with a surface area of. 1,190 ha (2,900 acres). Its north to south dimension is 7 km (4.3 mi). It is a part of the closed basin known as Göller Yöresi ("Turkish Lakes Region") . Its distance to Karamanlı is 16 km (9.9 mi) and to Burdur is 46 km (29 mi). Its elevation with respect to sea level is 1,050 m (3,440 ft).

The main bird species of the lake are Eurasian wigeon, grey heron, white heron, pochard, teal, and black-tailed godwit.

List of birds of the District of Columbia

This is a list of birds of the District of Columbia. (A) means bird species is rare or accidental, and (I) means introduced.

List of birds of the U.S. Minor Outlying Islands

This is a list of birds of the U.S. Minor Outlying Islands. (A) means bird species is accidental / rare.

The Wake Island rail was a species endemic to Wake Island, but it is now extinct. The Laysan duck is endemic to the Northwest Hawaiian Islands (which includes Midway Atoll — Midway Atoll is part of the U.S. Minor Outlying Islands, not the state of Hawaii). The endemic and critically-endangered Nihoa finch was extirpated from Midway Atoll.

Because the U.S. Minor Outlying Islands is a statistical area with no organized government, it has no official bird (unlike the states and four out of five of the inhabited territories).


Mareca is a genus or subgenus of duck in the family Anatidae that includes the wigeons.

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. Based on the published phylogeny, the genus Anas was split into four monophyletic genera with five extant species moved into the resurrected genus Mareca.The genus Mareca was introduced by the English naturalist James Francis Stephens in 1824. The type species is the Eurasian wigeon. The name of the genus is from the Brazilian-Portuguese word Marréco for a small duck.

Merja Zerga

Merja Zerga or Lagune de Moulay Bou Selham is a tidal lagoon on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, 70 km north of the city of Kenitra. Classified as a Permanent Biological Reserve in 1978, it is managed by several government agencies.The lagoon, which covers 4,500 hectares, receives water from the Oued Drader and from the local water table. Its average depth is 1.5 metres. The area's annual rainfall (600–700 mm) results in winter floods that inundate the surrounding areas.

A Ramsar Convention site, the lagoon hosts 100 bird species and has been identified as a key site on the East Atlantic Flyway. Between 15,000 and 30,000 ducks overwinter at the lagoon, and it regularly holds 50,000 to 100,000 waders. Its permanent species include Asio capensis. Winter visitors include ruddy shelduck, common shelduck, gadwall, Eurasian wigeon, northern shoveler, marbled teal, greater flamingo, common coot, pied avocet, grey plover, and slender-billed curlew.

Oare Marshes

Oare Marshes is a 71.4-hectare (176-acre) Local Nature Reserve north of Faversham in Kent. It is owned and managed by Kent Wildlife Trust. It is part of The Swale Nature Conservation Review site, Grade I, National Nature Reserve, Ramsar internationally important wetland site, Special Protection Area under the European Union Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds, and Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Patna Bird Sanctuary

Patna Bird Sanctuary is a protected area in Uttar Pradesh's Etah district encompassing a lentic lake that is an important wintering ground for migrating birds. It was founded in 1991 and covers an area of 1.09 km2 (0.42 sq mi). With a lake area of only 1 km2 (0.39 sq mi), it is the smallest bird sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh.

The water quality of the lake supports a wide range of avifauna during winter season. The entire lake area gets covered by profuse growth of macrophytic vegetation of water hyacinth and Potamogeton species during summers.

About 200,000 birds of 300 different bird species frequent the sanctuary. More than 106 species of migratory and resident birds are known to have their resting habitats around the lake. The important aquatic birds inhabiting lake are:

Lesser whistling-duck

Graylag goose

Comb duck

Ruddy shelduck


Eurasian wigeon

Indian spot-billed duck

Northern shoveler

Northern pintail

Green-winged teal

Common pochard

Ferruginous duck

Baer's pochard

Tufted duck

Indian peafowl

Common quail

Black francolin

Gray francolin

Little grebe

Asian openbill

Woolly-necked stork

Black-necked stork

Little cormorant

Great cormorant

Purple heron

Cattle egret

Indian pond-heron

Black-headed ibis

Red-naped ibis

Eurasian spoonbill

Black-shouldered kite

Egyptian vulture

Booted eagle

Bonelli's eagle


Black kite

Eurasian coot

Sarus crane

Black-winged stilt

Black-tailed godwit

Laughing dove

Greater coucal

Rose-ringed parakeet

Plum-headed parakeet

Long-tailed shrike

Black drongo

Rufous treepie

Ashy-crowned sparrow-lark

Bengal bushlark

Red-vented bulbul

Plain leaf warbler

Ashy prinia

Plain prinia

Common babbler

Oriental magpie-robin

Brahminy starling

Common myna

Bank myna

Purple sunbird

Indian silverbill

Scaly-breasted munia

Samaspur Sanctuary

Samaspur Sanctuary is situated near Salon in Rae Bareli district. It lies at about 122 km from Lucknow on Lucknow-Varanasi highway. It was established in 1987 on about 780 hectares of land. Nearest railway station is Unchahar and the nearest airport is Fursatganj, Raebareli. The best time to visit the place is between November to March. More than 250 varieties of birds can be seen here. Some of the birds come here from a distance of more than 5000 km, including Greylag Goose, Pintail, Common Teal, Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Ruddy Shelduck (Surkhab) etc. Local birds include Knob-billed Duck, Lesser Whistling-duck, Indian Spot-billed Duck, Eurasian Spoon-bill, Kingfishers, Vultures etc. Twelve varieties of fish are there in the lake at Samaspur.

Testwood Lakes

Testwood Lakes (grid reference SU348153) is the name used to refer to a group of three lakes near the River Blackwater and River Test on the northwest edge of Southampton, Hampshire, England. The lakes were built by Southern Water to provide drinking water for the Southampton area and are named Little Testwood Lake (completed in 1997), Testwood Lake (completed in 2002) and Meadow Lake. There is a visitor centre at the site.

The Floating Feather

The Floating Feather is the commonly used name for an oil-on-canvas painting by Dutch artist Melchior d'Hondecoeter, properly titled A Pelican and Other Birds Near a Pool. The fine detail of the feather floating on the pond led to the "official" title being quickly supplanted.

The picture was painted around 1680, probably for either the hunting lodge of the Stadholder William III of Orange, which is now the royal palace at Soestdijk, or Het Loo Palace in Apeldoorn.

The painting shows a number of birds, both common and exotic, gathered around a pool. Hondecoeter was known for his bird studies and in particular for the realistic portrayal of the subjects. Although he experimented with different styles early in his career, after 1660 he favoured compositions similar to that seen in The Floating Feather: carefully observed subjects set in farmyards, courtyards or country parks with architectural or landscape features enhancing the backgrounds. His paintings were admired by the regents and merchants of Amsterdam, and by William III, who had works at three of his palaces. Hondecoeter's murals and large paintings were well-suited to both the large country houses and the tastes of the time.

Hondecoeter kept his own poultry yard at his house, but visited the country houses of his patrons where he could study more exotic species. It was said that he had trained a rooster to stand still on command, so that he could paint it without interruption. In this picture, alongside the great white pelican are species of wild fowl and domesticated duck, among them a Eurasian teal, common merganser, red-breasted goose, Eurasian wigeon, common shelduck, muscovy duck, brant goose, smew, Egyptian goose, and northern pintail. On the far side of the pool are also large birds from different continents: a southern cassowary, black crowned crane, and American flamingo. A sarus crane and a second flamingo are visible in the background. Flying above the pool there is a golden oriole depicted.

Hondecoeter produced a strikingly similar picture, A Pelican and other exotic birds in a park, in which some elements of the composition are identical: the birds on the water, the group of exotic birds, the pelican, and the floating feather. Other features are similar, such as the landscape and the muscovy duck which is seen in full, while some are entirely different; in this picture a Moluccan cockatoo perches in a tree above the pool and different birds are introduced on the far side of the pool to the right. The exact date of this painting is not known, but it is estimated to be between 1655 and 1660.


The wigeons or widgeons are a group of birds, dabbling ducks currently classified in the genus Mareca along with two other species. There are three extant species of wigeon, in addition to one recently extinct species.


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