Breeding Bird Atlas 1 Additional Accounts

American Wigeon


Anas americana

The American Wigeon was not “confirmed” as a breeder during the Atlas period, although it has nested in Massachusetts both prior to the project and in subsequent years. Widely scattered and relatively uncommon to rare breeders in the Northeast, most wigeons breed in artificially impounded wildlife refuges or waterfowl management areas. The first Massachusetts breeding confirmation occurred when a female with seven young was observed at Penikese Island, Dukes County, near the entrance to Buzzards Bay, on July 1, 1972 (Nisbet).

Subsequent Massachusetts breeding confirmations were made at Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, Barnstable County; during the summer of 1981 a female with young was observed on June 24 (French), and in 1983 breeding was again reported (Lortie). It is quite likely that this species has nested at the latter location in other years as well, and breeding has also been suspected at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, Essex County. Due to the difficulties of accessing suitable nesting areas at the Monomoy and Parker River national wildlife refuges, this species has probably gone undetected as a breeder more often than Massachusetts records would indicate.

As migrants and wintering birds, American Wigeons are fairly common and widespread in Massachusetts, especially in autumn when they tend to prefer coastal ponds or inland wetlands that contain an abundance of their favorite pondweeds. In many years, Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge attracts large fall concentrations.