Chiloé Wigeon, a striking waterfowl, is known for its distinctive appearance and friendly behavior. Males feature a bold pattern of white and gray on their heads, a chestnut breast, and a green eye stripe, while females are more subdued with gray-brown plumage and less prominent eye stripes. These ducks are relatively small and compact, measuring 45-50 cm long. They are often seen in pairs or small groups, frequenting freshwater lakes, slow-flowing rivers, and sheltered coastal waters.


Chiloé Wigeons are highly vocal, with a range of whistles and more musical calls than most ducks. They are highly adaptable, often seen dabbling for food in shallow waters or grazing on land. In flight, they reveal a striking wing pattern with a conspicuous white patch, making them easily identifiable. These birds are also known for stealing food from other waterfowl, a behavior known as kleptoparasitism.


During the breeding season, Chiloé Wigeons become more territorial and less friendly. They nest in dense vegetation near water, preferring secluded spots—the female leads in incubating eggs while the male guards the territory. After hatching, ducklings are quick to leave the nest and can feed themselves, although they remain under parental protection.



Physical Description:

The Chiloé Wigeon is a medium-sized duck with a compact and robust body. The male is particularly striking with a bright russet breast, black rear, and a head patterned in white and gray with a distinctive green eye stripe. Females are more subdued, predominantly gray-brown, with a less defined eye stripe and duller overall coloration. Both sexes have a prominent white wing patch visible in flight, contrasting with the otherwise dark wing feathers.

Their bill is blue-gray with a black tip, and their legs and feet are grayish. Chiloé Wigeons are smaller than many other duck species, typically reaching about 45-50 cm long. The species exhibits sexual dimorphism, with males slightly more colorful and larger than females. Their compact body and fast wing beats give them a distinctive, agile flight pattern.

Lifespan: Wild: ~8 years || Captivity: ~10 years

Weight: Male: 1.1-1.3 lbs (500-600 g) || Female: 0.9-1.1 lbs (400-500 g)

Length: Male: 18-20 inches (45-50 cm) || Female: 17-19 inches (43-48 cm)

Wingspan: Male & Female: 30-31 inches (76-79 cm)

Top Speed: 50 mph (80 km/h)

Native Habitat:

Chiloé Wigeons are native to South America and predominantly found in the southern and central regions. Their preferred habitats include freshwater lakes, slow-flowing rivers, marshes, and sheltered coastal waters. These areas provide abundant food sources and suitable conditions for nesting and raising young. They favor environments with a mix of open water and dense vegetation, which offer protection from predators and extreme weather.

In their native range, Chiloé Wigeons often inhabit wetlands and estuaries, using both natural and man-made water bodies. They are well-adapted to cold temperatures and can be found at higher altitudes during summer. During the winter, they migrate north to warmer regions, often reaching as far as central Chile and southern Brazil. Their adaptability to different water bodies makes them common in varied aquatic habitats across South America.

Climate Zones:
Biogeographical Realms:

Diet & Feeding Habits:

Chiloé Wigeons are omnivores with a varied diet, including aquatic plants, grasses, small insects, and crustaceans. They feed by dabbling in shallow water, often upending to reach food below the surface. On land, they graze on grass and other vegetation and prefer short, easily digestible grasses. In winter, their diet shifts more towards aquatic vegetation due to the scarcity of grass.

These ducks often feed in groups and engage in kleptoparasitism, stealing food from other waterfowl. They are opportunistic feeders and adapt their diet based on availability, contributing to their success in diverse habitats. During the breeding season, their diet includes more protein-rich food, like insects, which is crucial for the development of ducklings. Their foraging behavior is highly adaptable, allowing them to thrive in wild and urban environments.

Mating Behavior:

Mating Description:

Chiloé Wigeons form monogamous pairs during the breeding season, typically from September to December in the Southern Hemisphere. Courtship involves elaborate displays by the male, including head bobbing, whistling, and showing off their striking plumage. The female selects the nest site, usually in dense vegetation near water, where she lays and incubates a clutch of 6-10 eggs.

The male is protective during incubation, guarding the territory against predators and intruders. After hatching, the ducklings are precocial and leave the nest within a day, able to feed themselves under the watchful eye of both parents. The family stays together until the young are capable of independent survival. The strong pair bond is crucial for the successful raising of the offspring.

Reproduction Season:

Birth Type:

Pregnancy Duration:

~25 days (Incubation)

Female Name:


Male Name:


Baby Name:


Social Structure Description:

Chiloé Wigeons are social birds, often seen in pairs or small groups, especially outside the breeding season. They exhibit a mix of solitary and gregarious behaviors, with the balance shifting based on the time of year. During the breeding season, pairs become more territorial and less friendly, focusing on raising their young—the male and female protect the nest site and care for the ducklings.

Chiloé Wigeons can be quite social in non-breeding times, forming larger flocks that include hundreds of individuals. These flocks are often mixed with other species of ducks, showcasing their ability to coexist peacefully with other waterfowl. Social interactions within flocks include feeding together, preening, and communal roosting. Their friendly nature during the winter months plays a crucial role in their survival, as it helps them locate food and avoid predators.


Conservation Status:
Population Trend:


Wild: Unknown || Captivity: Unknown


The Chiloé Wigeon is a species of Least Concern by the IUCN, with a stable population trend. They are widespread throughout their range in South America, with no major threats leading to a significant population decline. In some regions, they are very common and can be seen in large flocks, especially during migration and wintering grounds.

However, habitat destruction and pollution in some areas pose potential threats to local populations. The adaptability of Chiloé Wigeons to different environments, including urban areas, has helped maintain their numbers. Conservation efforts for this species are generally focused on habitat preservation and monitoring of population trends to ensure their continued stability.

Population Threats:

The main threats to Chiloé Wigeons include habitat loss and degradation, primarily due to agricultural expansion, urban development, and pollution. Wetland drainage and alteration for agriculture reduce their breeding and feeding habitats. In some areas, agricultural runoff and industrial pollution can impact water quality, affecting their food sources and health.

Climate change poses a long-term threat, potentially altering their migratory patterns and the availability of suitable habitats. Hunting and human disturbance can also impact local populations, although this is less significant than habitat-related threats. Conservation efforts must address these challenges to ensure the long-term survival of this species.

Conservation Efforts:

Conservation efforts for Chiloé Wigeons are primarily focused on habitat conservation and environmental protection. Protected areas and nature reserves are crucial in providing safe breeding and feeding grounds. Environmental regulations and wetland conservation initiatives help maintain the quality of their habitats.

There is also a focus on monitoring and research to better understand their population dynamics and migration patterns. Environmental education and awareness programs aim to reduce human disturbance and hunting pressure. Given their migratory nature, international cooperation is essential to ensure effective conservation measures across their range.

Additional Resources:

Fun Facts

  • Chiloé Wigeons are known for their distinctive whistling calls, which are more musical than most other duck species.
  • They have a unique behavior known as kleptoparasitism, where they steal food from other waterfowl species.
  • Unlike many duck species, Chiloé Wigeons are known to feed on land and water, grazing on grass and other vegetation.
  • The species is named after Chiloé Island in Chile, part of their native range.
  • They are strong fliers and can migrate long distances between their breeding and wintering grounds.
  • Chiloé Wigeons can hybridize with other duck species, such as the American Wigeon.
  • The striking white wing patch of the Chiloé Wigeon is a key identification feature, especially visible during flight.
  • They are one of the few duck species where the male stays with the female during the incubation of eggs.
  • Chiloé Wigeons are adaptable to various climates, from cold Patagonian shores to warmer northern regions.
  • In some South American cultures, the Chiloé Wigeon is featured in folklore and regarded as a symbol of beauty and agility.