The green-winged teal is a small dabbling duck with iridescent green patches on its head and wings. It lives in tidal marshes and wetlands throughout the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers from autumn through spring.
The green-winged teal grows to 14.5 inches in length with a wingspan of 24 inches. Males and females have different patterns and coloring. Males have a chestnut head with a green, crescent-shaped patch running through the eye to the back of the head. Their body is mostly gray, and they have a yellowish tail and a white vertical line in front of the wings. Females are mottled brown all over. Both sexes have green wing patches (called specula) with white borders.
These birds eat mainly seeds from bay grasses and aquatic plants, but will also eat small invertebrates. They feed at the water’s surface or by “tipping up” their tails and submerging their heads to reach food underwater.
Humans are the green-winged teal’s greatest predator. Skunks, raccoons and red foxes prey upon young and eggs. The birds will dive underwater to escape predators.
The green-winged teal takes off by flying straight up from the water. It can be identified in flight by its iridescent green wing patches with white borders.
Males whistle, while females quack.
Reproduction and Life Cycle
The green-winged teal does not nest and breed in the Bay region; it nests throughout most of Canada, Alaska and the northern Midwestern United States. Breeding occurs from late April to early June. Females lay six to ten eggs, which incubate for 21 to 23 days. Males leave the females soon after incubation.
Did You Know?
- The green-winged teal gets its name from its iridescent green wing patches. It is also known as the common teal.
- It is the smallest species of dabbling duck in North America.
- After mallards, green-winged teals are the second most commonly hunted duck in the U.S.
Sources and Additional Information
- Life in the Chesapeake Bay by Alice Jane Lippson and Robert L. Lippson
- Chesapeake Bay: Nature of the Estuary, A Field Guide by Christopher P. White
- Animal Diversity Web: Anas crecca – University of Michigan Museum of Zoology
- All About Birds: Green-winged Teal – The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
- Anas crecca – U.S. Forest Service