Family Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)

Least Concern

Eurasian Wigeon (Mareca penelope)


French: Canard siffleur German: Pfeifente Spanish: Silbón europeo

Anas Penelope


, 1758,

coasts and swamps of Europe


Normally placed in Anas. Closest to M. americana and M. sibilatrix. Morphological characters support a sister relationship between present species and M. americana, with M. sibilatrix basal to the two, whereas mtDNA suggests that divergence of present species took place before that of M. americana and M. sibilatrix#R. In addition, morphology indicates a sister relationship between the three wigeon species and M. falcata, with M. strepera basal to these four species, but mtDNA supports a sister relationship between M. strepera and M. falcata to the exclusion of the wigeons#R. Present species hybridizes with M. americana and infrequently with other duck species#R. Monotypic.


From Iceland and N Britain E across N Europe and N Asia to Pacific coast. In winter moves to C & S Europe, S Asia and N & C Africa, and reaches North America.

Descriptive notes

42–51 cm; male mostly 600–1000 g, female 500–800 g; wingspan 71–86 cm. Male has chestnut head and neck, with yellowish crown, sometimes has metallic... read more


Most characteristic is piercing, whistled “whee-OOO” by male, given both in flight, on water or... read more


Shallow, freshwater marshes, lakes and lagoons surrounded by scattered trees or open forest during... read more

Food and feeding

Essentially vegetarian; leaves, stems, roots, rhizomes and seeds of grasses, sedges and aquatic vegetation, e.g. saltmarsh grass (... read more


Starts Apr–Jun, varying across range according to latitude, with nests sometimes initiated in Apr in Scotland, but may not arrive on... read more


Basically migratory, descending to lower latitudes to winter throughout most of W & C Europe,... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Abundant, concentrates in large numbers in wintering grounds, at which season five main populations identified, namely in NW Europe (... read more

Recommended citation

Carboneras, C., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Eurasian Wigeon (Mareca penelope). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 11 December 2019).