Mareca Penelope – Eurasian Wigeon

Mareca Penelope - Eurasian Wigeon found in the US

The Eurasian wigeon, also known as the European wigeon, or wigeon (Mareca penelope), is one of three species of wigeon in the dabbling duck genus Mareca. It is ubiquitous and frequent across its Palearctic region.

Quick Overview: Mareca Penelope – Eurasian Wigeon
Body size: Around 18-20 in (46-51 cm) and a weight of 1000 g (35.27 oz)
Main colors: Gray, Brown, Pink-Brown, White, Green
Range: Western United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: January, February, December
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Eurasian Wigeon Description

This huge dabbling duck is gray on the back, finely speckled gray on the flanks, dark rufous-brown on the head, buff on the crest and forehead, pink-brown on the breast, white on the belly, and gray on the legs and feet. Direct flying at a high rate of speed with fast wing beats. White shoulder patches and a prominent green speculum on the wings.

Mareca Penelope - Eurasian Wigeon found in the US
Mareca Penelope – Eurasian Wigeon. Photo by: Cuatrok77


These birds have a length of 18-20 in (46-51 cm) and a weight of 1000 g (35.27 oz). Their wings could range from 30-32 in (76-81 cm).


The Eurasian wigeon prefers open wetlands, such as wet grassland or marshes with some taller vegetation, and eats primarily by dipping for plant food or grazing, which it accomplishes quite quickly.


Grasslands, lakes, bays, and fields. In winter in North America, they are frequently found in marshy ponds with the adjacent open ground or flooded fields; they also frequent shallow coastal estuaries and sheltered bays. The presence of American Wigeon is the most reliable indicator of suitable habitat for Eurasian Wigeon.


Outside of the breeding season, it is quite social and forms big flocks. They will associate with flocks of American wigeons in the United States, where they will also hybridize. This is a very vocal species. Males have a distinct whistle that sounds like “pjiew pjiew,” and females have a low growl that sounds like “rawr.”

Mareca Penelope Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Anseriformes
  • Family: Anatidae
  • Genus: Mareca
  • Species: Mareca penelope

Best time of the year to see

The best time to see these birds in the United States is during the winter season (December to February).

Distribution of the Eurasian Wigeon in the USA

Breeds in Iceland, the British Isles, and Scandinavia, as well as in eastern Siberia and Kamchatka, as well as in northern Europe, central Russia, and northern China. May travel along the Pacific coast from Alaska to Baja California, as well as the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from Labrador and Newfoundland to Florida and west to southern Texas.

The Eurasian Wigeon can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

Mareca Penelope – Eurasian Wigeon

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