Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Eurasian Wigeon - Mareca penelope
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General Comments This Eurasian breeding species winters regularly in small numbers both along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America. Because the female is very similar in appearance to the female American Wigeon, practically all reports from the state of Eurasian Wigeon are of males. Not surprisingly, the Eurasian Wigeon is always found within flocks of American Wigeons; single Eurasians are seldom seen with other duck species. The species is found on lakes and impoundments, usually ones that are fairly large in size; most records are coastal and in the Tidewater zone.
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank SZ
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain Rare (but annual) winter visitor to the Tidewater and northern coastal areas, though primarily at Bodie and Pea islands and at Lake Mattamuskeet; very rare away from large waterfowl concentrations elsewhere in the Tidewater. Farther south near the coast, very rare winter visitor. Accidental in the inland portion of the province: a record from Rocky Mount in Jan (prior to 1959), and a record from Greenville on 20 Jan 1994. Early Oct to late Mar, with peak numbers typically in Oct-Nov, and often quite difficult to find after the end of Dec. One was quite early at Pea Island NWR on 16 Sep 2018; extremely late was one at that refuge on 15 May 2023. Peak counts: 5 on several dates, all at Pea Island NWR.
Piedmont Very rare winter visitor in Wake, with roughly 10 records, but accidental to casual elsewhere. The only other records are from the Reddies River in Wilkes, 24 Apr 1955; from Cowan's Ford Refuge in Mecklenburg, 6 Jan 2000; in NW Davidson, 24-25 Dec 2008; and at Kerr Lake, 3 Nov 2009. Dates occur from 25 Oct to 22 Mar, plus the 24 Apr record listed above.
Mountains No records.
Finding Tips To find the species, you must go to where the American Wigeons are found. The species can be found with purposeful search, if you are at a site with 100 or more American Wigeons. Your best bet is at North Pond at Pea Island in Nov, where one to several males have been seen each of the past few years, among the several thousand Americans. The entrance road pond at Lake Mattamuskeet and the Bodie Island Lighthouse Pond are other places worth looking, from Nov into the winter.
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Attribution LeGrand[2023-08-09], LeGrand[2023-03-01], LeGrand[2019-04-18]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
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