American wigeon, like this breeding pair photographed earlier in the year on Hat Creek near Baum Lake (Shasta County CA), are permanent residents in our area. The white crown on the non-eclipse male gives it the common name baldpate.
American wigeon are considered dabbing ducks. Unlike most dabbling ducks, which live in shallow water and take most of their food by dabbling at the water surface or upending with their tail up and the head submerged, American wigeon spend more time grazing in flocks on land. They also venture into deeper water more often where they obtain food by stealing it from other waterfowl such as coots and diving ducks. They also regularly nest on dry ground far from water.
American wigeon mainly eat aquatic plants and some insects and snails. When feeding on land they gorge on young grass shoots, seeds and waste grain.
Formerly assigned to the genus Anas, American wigeon are currently designated as Mareca americana.