© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Kari Pihlaviita, Jouko Lehmuskallio, M. & W. von Wright: Svenska fåglar (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.


Mareca penelope

  • Name also: Eurasian Wigeon, Eurasian Widgeon
  • Family: Waterfowl – Anatidae
  • Appearance: A medium-sized, short-necked dabbling duck with a rounded head. Male in breeding plumage has an orange-brown head and neck with a cream-coloured forehead patch. White wing panels are prominent on birds in flight. Females have warm colouring on their bodies.
  • Size: Length 42–50 cm, wingspan 75–87 cm, weight 600–850 g.
  • Nest: Usually in woodland beneath a bush, in undergrowth and well concealed in vegetation. Lined with feathers and down.
  • Breeding: 7–9(–13) eggs laid April–May, incubated by female for 22–23 days. Ducklings leave nest after hatching and soon learn to find food, but remain in their brood with their mother. They learn to fly about 6 weeks after hatching.
  • Distribution: Found by waters throughout Finland. Finnish breeding population estimated at 50,000–83,000 pairs.
  • Migration: May migrate by day or night. Leaves Finland August–October, returning March–May. Mainly winters in Western Europe, though some birds may stay in Finland.
  • Diet: In summer grazes on grass like geese. During other seasons feeds on aquatic plants and only seldom eats aquatic invertebrates or fish.
  • Calls: Male has a loud characteristic whiplash-like whistling call “vii-u(rr)”. Females may make a rattling “kar, kar…” call in flight.
  • Endangerment: Vulnerable, protected. Game bird.

Wigeons may be hunted as waterfowl in Finland. They are medium-sized, short-necked dabbling ducks with high foreheads giving their heads a rounded appearance. They have short, pale blue-grey bills with black tips. Males in breeding plumage (from October or November until the end of June) are very colourful, with orange-brown heads and necks, a cream-coloured forehead patch, and pink breasts. Their bodies are largely pale grey with striped patterning, and they have white underparts. They have black undertail coverts and their wings have white panels and a speculum patch that is iridescent green in front and black behind.

Males moult in late June and their late summer plumage from July to October resembles the plumage of females, but they can still be recognised by their broad, bright white oval-shaped wing panels. Females and juveniles are generally more uniformly reddish brown in colouring, but their plumage may vary considerably seasonally and between individuals. Their distinguishing features include their shape, the absence of any eyebrow stripe, and pure white colouring on their underbellies, which stands out against the other darker parts of their plumage. Some females and juveniles also have white wing panels, but these panels are smaller than on males. Wigeons have dark grey legs and brown irises.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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