The white crown stripe of the male American wigeon has earned this species the nickname “baldpate.” This field mark contrasts with the dark eye patch and can be seen from great distances. Both male and female appear round-headed and have a pinkish chest and body. The light blue-gray bill has a black tip.
Female American wigeons give a guttural growl. Males have a high whistle that sounds like a squeaky squeeze toy.
In flight, drake (male) wigeons flash large white patches on the upper surface of their wings. Both sexes have underwings with white centers and both show white bellies.
Look for American wigeons on large marshes, lakes, and ponds, where they forage near the surface. They also graze for food on land more commonly than other ducks.
The American wigeon behaves like a bandit on large lakes. This bird is known to steal food from other waterfowl.