Find common teal information at Animal Diversity Web
318 to 364 g
(11.19 to 12.81 oz)
The Teal is the smallest dabbling duck in the Americas. Its bill is narrow and black. Teals are sexually dimorphic. Males have a cinnamon colored head with an iridescent green crescent spanning from one eye, around the back of the head, to the other eye. The sides and back are actually marked with tiny black and white stripes, although they appear grey. Their wings and tail are a tannish-brown color, with pale yellow feathers along the side of the tail. Females are entirely tannish-brown, except for their white chin and belly.
Green-winged Teals breed throughout most of Canada, Alaska, Maine, N. Dakota, Minnesota, and Northern Michigan. Their wintering range includes the western United States, Mexico, and the southern United States. Two other subspecies of the Teal, A. c. crecca and A. c. nimia, can be found in Eurasia and the Aleutian Islands.
Teals prefer shallow inland wetlands, beaver ponds, and coastal marshes with heavy vegetation and muddy bottoms. These habitats are often found in deciduous parklands, boreal forests, grasslands, or sedge meadows.
Green-winged Teals begin courtship between September and November. They form monogamous pairs every winter. Paired males attempt forced extra-pair copulation during the mating season, while nonpaired males do not. The nest is built by the female, while the male watches, at the beginning of the egg-laying period. This occurs sometime in May, depending on the weather and temperature. Five or 6 eggs are usually layed. The male then abandons the female, who must incubate and care for the young alone. Incubation lasts for about 23 days, during which time the female spends almost three-fourths of her time on the nest, while the rest is spent in feeding and comfort movements. Once hatched, the Teal ducklings are more sensitive to cold than other duck species, and the mother must protect them from extreme cold through brooding. She also leads them to water and food and protects them from predators by using techniques of distraction.
Teals are rapid, agile flyers. They are the only duck known to scratch while in flight. They do not dive for food, but have been seen diving to escape predators. Males exhibit distinctive whistles, while females typically vocalize through a series of quacks.
The sleeping and preening behaviors of the Teal strongly resemble other duck species. For example, they sleep standing up with their bill turned into their back feathers. The preen by shaking, stretching, and nibbling. They are not known to exhibit territoriality.
Green-winged Teals feed on almost any plant or animal in high abundance, largely in shallow waters, near the shoreline or in mudflats. Their main foods vary from region to region, depending on what is available, but they consist mainly of marine invertebrates and seeds of marine vegetation. The finely spaced lamallae along the inside of the Teal's bill allow it to retrieve small seeds easily.
Green-winged Teals are hunted for sport. In 1989, approximately 200,000 were harvested in Canada alone.
Green-winged Teals are the second most commonly hunted duck in North America, following Mallards. In addition, there has been a decline in their wintering habitat. In spite of these two setbacks, however, Teal populations are increasing. This is likely due to the inaccessibility to humans of their breeding habitat, which is deep in the wilderness of northern Canada. The wetlands that they inhabit in the winter are being managed, but more for waterfowl in general than for the Green-winged Teal.
Green-winged Teals migrate in large groups of up to a few hundred ducks. They move mainly at night.
Jennifer Roof, University of Michigan
Johnson, Kevin. The Birds of North America. No. 193, 1995. The American Ornithologists' Union.