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common teal

Anas crecca

What do they look like?

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.

  • Range mass
    318 to 364 g
    11.21 to 12.83 oz
  • Average basal metabolic rate
    1.68388 W

Where do they live?

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.

What kind of habitat do they need?

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.

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • lakes and ponds

How do they reproduce?

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.

  • Range eggs per season
    5 to 6
  • Average eggs per season
  • Average time to hatching
    23 days
  • Average time to hatching
    22 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female
    180 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    Sex: male
    180 days

How long do they live?

How do they behave?

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.

How do they communicate with each other?

What do they eat?

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.

How do they interact with us?

Green-winged Teals are hunted for sport. In 1989, approximately 200,000 were harvested in Canada alone.

Are they endangered?

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.

Some more information...

Green-winged Teals migrate in large groups of up to a few hundred ducks. They move mainly at night.


Jennifer Roof (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


animals that generate their own body heat through metabolic processes.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


makes seasonal movements between breeding and wintering grounds


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


uses touch to communicate

tropical savanna and grassland

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

uses sight to communicate


Johnson, Kevin. The Birds of North America. No. 193, 1995. The American Ornithologists' Union.

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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Roof, J. 1999. "Anas crecca" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 23, 2014 at

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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