Anas penelope or European Widgeon Ducks are patterned ducks. Males sport an array of dramatic and fine stippling and striking stripes. The male European Widgeon has a chestnut head with a contrasting powder blue bill with a black tip. The breast is a rosy mauve, and the rest of the body is gray and dark brown with striking black and white highlights. The female European Widgeon is mottled in camouflaging browns and grays. When not in breeding plumage, the male looks similar to the female.
Range: European Widgeons are widespread and abundant. They are found throughout Europe and Asia. In general, populations live in northern locations, such as Ireland and Great Britain, for the breeding season. They migrate to Southern locales, such as Asia and Africa, for the winter.
Habitat: European Widgeons prefer open wetlands, wide grassland marshes, and wet meadows. They usually form large gregarious flocks during the non-breeding season.
Status in the Wild: European Widgeon Ducks have a stable and healthy wild population.
Status in Aviculture: Due to their calm and peaceful manner and their hardiness, European Widgeons are solid and good choices for aviculture.
Breeding: European Widgeons breed in spring, and can sometimes be a bit aggressive during this time. Nests are usually made on the ground in natural cover. Nest boxes, placed on the ground among some brush or shrubbery, are often used by the European Widgeon. Clutch size is 7-10 eggs, and incubation takes about 24-25 days. European Widgeon ducklings are hardy and adaptable and easy to care for. European Widgeons can hybridize with other widgeon species, so care should be taken to avoid this.
Lifespan: The lifespan of ducks kept in captivity often far exceeds that of ducks in the wild. European Widgeons have been known to live beyond 20 years of age.
Size: The European Widgeon measures 17–20 inches in length with a wingspan of 28-31 inches. They usually weigh between 1.25 and 2.25 pounds.
Housing Requirements: European Widgeons are a noisy species of duck; males make a high-pitched whistle and females growl. In areas where noise wouldn’t be an issue, European Widgeons are easy and simple aviary birds. They are hardy and robust and adaptable. They do well when raised with access to water and pasture.
Diet: Widgeons are vegetarian birds and are strong grazers. A high-quality waterfowl feed would be appropriate, but keeping them in an aviary with plenty of access to grass would be ideal.
Miscellaneous Notes: European Widgeons can sometimes be found visiting the United States on both the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts. When visiting, it has been known to hybridize with the American Widgeon.