Eurasian Wigeon, Mareca Penelope
Eurasian Wigeons inhabit a wide range of wetland habitats, including lakes, ponds, marshes, estuaries, and coastal lagoons. They can be found across a vast world range that extends from Europe and Asia. During the breeding season, they are distributed across northern Europe and Asia, while in winter, they migrate southward to more temperate regions.
Male Eurasian Wigeons have a distinctive plumage. They have a chestnut head with a creamy-yellow forehead and a pinkish breast. The flanks are intricately patterned with gray and black, while the back is grayish-brown. Females have a mottled brown plumage with a paler head and a dark bill. In flight, both males and females display a white patch on their wings, which is conspicuous against their dark bodies.
Eurasian Wigeons are primarily herbivorous. They have a specialized diet that includes various aquatic plants, grasses, seeds, and agricultural crops. They forage by grazing on vegetation both on land and in shallow water. They are known for their ability to tip their heads underwater to reach submerged vegetation.
The female Eurasian Wigeon selects the nest site, which is usually located on the ground in a concealed location amidst tall vegetation or near water. They may also nest in dense grassy areas or scrub. The nest is a shallow depression lined with grass, leaves, and down feathers.
A female Eurasian Wigeon typically lays around 7-10 eggs, with an average of 8 eggs per clutch. The eggs are creamy-white or pale green. The female incubates the eggs for approximately 24-25 days. During this period, the male may leave to molt and regrow its flight feathers.
Once the eggs hatch, the female leads the ducklings to water within a day or two. The ducklings are precocial and capable of swimming and finding their own food shortly after hatching. They primarily feed on invertebrates, insects, and plant matter present in shallow water habitats. The young Eurasian Wigeons fledge at around 45-50 days after hatching. They become independent but may remain in family groups for some time.
During winter, Eurasian Wigeons undertake extensive migrations, with many individuals traveling southward to milder climates. They may form large flocks during migration and winter, often associating with other species of dabbling ducks. They can be found in a range of wetland habitats, including coastal estuaries, brackish marshes, and freshwater lakes. They may also utilize agricultural fields and wet grasslands, where they feed on leftover grains and vegetation.