Eurasian Wigeon

Eurasian Wigeon    Anas Penelope


  • Anas : Latin word for Duck
  • Penelope: Latin word pene – almost, nearly; Greek word lophos – crest { small/Nearly crested}

Vernacular Names: Sind: Pharao, Piyasana, Hindi: Peasan, Patari, Pharia, Chhota lalsir, Sans: Priyashan hansak, Pun: Wijan, Bi: Aroon, Ben: Chhota lalsir, Ass: Khaltriya kunda, Mani: Thanggongmal, Nepal: Cheyun, Guj: Pharao, Piyasana, Piyasau, Mar: Tarang, Ori: Nali mundia, Ta: Mahudi thara, Te: Namam batu

Distribution in India: Widespread winter visitor.

Description: Size of 45-51 cm. Male has a chestnut head and neck, with yellowish crown, sometimes has metallic dark green spot behind eyes and on throat, pinkish-grey breast, grey-vermiculated upperparts and sides, white lower breast and belly, contrasting with black surround to white-grey tail, white upper wing-coverts, elongated grey scapulars, dark green speculum edged black, grey-brown primaries and dusky grey axillaries; blue-grey bill with black tip, slate-grey legs and feet, and brown eyes; has female-like eclipse plumage, which is rich reddish chestnut, with darker upperparts than adult female, rufous flanks and contrasting white forewing. Female slightly smaller with dark head not contrasting with breast and upperparts, brown mantle, scapulars, upper breast and flanks barred pink-buff, with rest of underparts white marked darker on under tail-coverts, axillaries greyish, underwing fawn with paler markings, wing-coverts grey-brown, speculum blackish, and bill and legs duller grey-blue than in male.

Habitat: It is found in shallow, freshwater marshes, lakes and lagoons surrounded by scattered trees or open forest during breeding season, but in winter moves to coastal marshes, freshwater and brackish lagoons, estuaries, bays and other sheltered marine localities.

Food Habits: It eats leaves, stems, roots, rhizomes and seeds of grasses, sedges and aquatic vegetation in winter; occasionally takes small invertebrates, especially ducklings, which are strongly dependent on chironomids in early days of life, but quickly switch to vegetable diet. During breeding season adults may also feed extensively on such prey. During cold winter weather feeds on gull droppings. Feeds by grazing on dry land in tight packs, dabbling on water surface and head dipping in shallow water; appears to favour nitrogen-fertilized grasslands in early breeding season. In winter feeds both at day or night, according to tides. Repeated feeding on same areas is deliberate strategy to improve their dietary quality in late winter/early spring.

Breeding Habits: They breed in Nov-Feb. Monogamous, with pair-bonds maintained until soon after clutch is initiated, but may then be re-established in winter. Sometimes double-brooded and, more commonly, will re-lay if first clutch is lost. Females are frequently faithful to natal area; nest is depression on ground, lined with grass, sometimes twigs, and a thick coat of down, hidden among vegetation and usually close to water. Lays a clutch of 8–9 eggs . The incubation period is 24–25 days by female alone. The fledging period is 40–45 days, with female remaining with brood in nursery area virtually throughout this period.