Green-winged TealAnas crecca

adult male, breeding
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
adult female
Jukka Jantunen/VIREO
adult male, molting into breeding plumage
Claude Nadeau/VIREO
adult male, breeding
Peter LaTourrette/VIREO
Green-winged Teal
Green-winged Teal

Description

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. Female is dark brown without distinctive markings. "Common Teal," race in Old World, has horizontal white stripe above flanks and no vertical white stripes on sides.

Voice

Clear repeated whistle. Females quack.

Listen

courtship flight
large flock
female decrescendo quacks
male lands and peeps

Habitat

Marshes, ponds, and marshy lakes.

Range

Breeds in northern Alaska, Manitoba, and Quebec south to California, Colorado, Nebraska, and New York. Winters in southern states and along coasts. Also in Eurasia.

Discussion

Until recently, the North American and Eurasian forms were considered distinct species. Each year a few males-and doubtless females-of the Eurasian form turn up in North America, giving rise to speculation that somewhere in North America a few of these so-called "Common Teal" may be breeding. A hardy species, they are among the last ducks to reach their winter habitat in fall and the first to depart in spring. Flocks of Green-winged Teal fly swiftly, executing sharp turns in unison like flocks of shorebirds. When the flock settles on water, the birds often separate into small groups consisting of one female courted by several males. Eventually the female chooses a mate and the chosen male wards off other suitors. In spring the pair returns to the previous breeding place of the female, not that of the male.

Nesting

10-12 whitish or pale buff eggs in a down-lined cup in tall grass, often several hundred yards from 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

Cinnamon Teal

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

adult (breeding)

Blue-winged Teal

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.

adult male

Falcated Duck

19" (48.5 cm).

Vireo

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