©Chris Gomersall/2020VISION


Scientific name: Anas penelope
The wigeon is a colourful duck that can often be spotted wheeling round our winter skies in large flocks. A dabbling duck, it surface-feeds on plants and seeds in shallow waters.

Species information


Length: 43-48cm
Wingspan: 80cm
Weight: 650-800g
Average lifespan: 3 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Amber under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2021). Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

When to see

January to December


A common dabbling duck, the wigeon is a winter visitor that gathers in large numbers, particularly on wet grasslands, floodplain meadows, flooded gravel pits and reservoirs with gently sloping edges where they can easily get out onto the grassy banks. Wigeon can be spotted dabbling in close-knit groups or flying in tight formations over wetlands.

How to identify

The wigeon is a medium-sized duck with a round head and short bill. Males are grey with a pink breast, orange head, yellow forehead and obvious white wing patches that can be seen when they fly. Females are similar to Mallard females, but with rusty brown plumage and a pointed tail.


Found throughout the country in winter, with large numbers congregating in coastal areas. It breeds in Scotland and Northern England in very small numbers.

Did you know?

The large numbers of wigeon that visit our wetlands in winter help to place this bird on the Amber list of the UK's Red List for Birds - a national measure of the state of, and threats to, our bird populations.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland and coastal nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.


Tom Hibbert