Blue-winged TealAnas discors

adult (breeding)
Arthur Morris/VIREO
adult female
Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO
adult male
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
adult male, breeding
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
juvenile
Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO
Blue-winged Teal
Blue-winged Teal

Description

14-16" (36-41 cm). A small brown duck with pale blue shoulder patches. Male has gray head and white crescent in front of eye. Female mottled brown, similar to female Cinnamon Teal but with obscure patterning on face and to female Green-winged, but grayer and larger billed, with pale blue shoulder patches like the male.

Voice

Soft lisping or peeping note. Female utters a soft quack.

Listen

male chux
male peeps
female quacks

Habitat

Marshes, shallow ponds, and lakes.

Range

Breeds from southeastern Alaska and western Canada to Canadian Maritimes and south to northeastern California, New Mexico, and New York. Winters from southern California, southern Texas, and Carolinas southward through tropical America.

Discussion

Fast and wary, Blue-winged Teal fly in small groups or flocks, turning in unison and flashing the blue area of the wing. They arrive latest of all ducks at their breeding grounds and leave early in the fall. On low, marshy prairies in the central part of the continent, where this duck is most numerous, virtually every pond and pothole has a breeding pair. The male commonly "stands guard" on the pond while the female is incubating. Unlike other dabbling ducks that form pairs in the fall, this teal begins courting in the spring and often does not acquire the familiar breeding plumage until December or January. Like most ducks, it goes through an eclipse plumage and molts most of its feathers simultaneously, including the primaries, and so is flightless until new feathers grow in.

Nesting

9-12 dull white eggs in a down-lined hollow concealed in grass near water.

Similar Species

adult male, breeding

Northern Shoveler

17-20" (43-51 cm). Large shovel-shaped bill. Male has green head, white body, and chestnut flanks.

adult male, breeding

Green-winged Teal

12-16" (30-41 cm). A small dark duck. Male has chestnut head, green ear patch, flashing green speculum, pale gray sides, and pinkish breast with a vertical white stripe down the side.

adult male

Cinnamon Teal

14-17" (36-43 cm). Male bright rufous with pale blue shoulder patches.

Vireo

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