Green-winged Teal

The Green-winged Teal is the smallest dabbling duck in North America. They breed in Canada and along the US side of the border with Canada. They are also known to breed here in Massachusetts. We see them in larger numbers when they move closer to the coast in the winter. Most spend the winter in the southern US and Mexico.

The males have a cinnamon colored head with a large green stripe that runs from the eyes to the back of the head. Our North American species has a white vertical stripe on its side. There is also a pale yellow area near their tails. We occasionally get a visit from the Eurasian subspecies that is identical except that the white stripe is horizontal rather than vertical. These are two native males.

This is a male Eurasian Green-winged Teal. Note the different orientation of the white line.

Females and immature birds are mottled brown and have the yellow patch. The green patch, or speculum, is usually hidden unless the duck is flying. It is evident on this female though.

The flock was startled while I was photographing it and all the ducks took to the air. They flew about 30-40 meters and settled back down. The green patch took on more of a blue shade on this male due to the angle of the sunlight. There is a Blue-winged Teal but it is very different.

The varying shades of green and blue-green can be seen in this group shot.

Despite the apparent chaos, the entire flock landed together in a small space with no collisions.

Finally, this is a male Blue-winged Teal I photographed in San Juan, Texas in 2019. It is larger and the color pattern is markedly different from the Green-winged Teal. I added this photo to show the blue shoulders that give this duck its name.

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