12" long, by 5" wide, by 5" high.
smallest dabbling duck, the Green-winged Teal is smaller and
more compact than other teals and has a round head and narrow
bill. All sexes and ages have dark gray wings with green-black
speculums and a brown bar above each speculum. Females and juveniles
are mottled brown overall with gray legs. Males in breeding plumage
have gray bodies with orange-buff, dark-spotted breasts and yellow
patches on their flanks. Their rumps are black and buff, and
their rufous heads have an iridescent green band swooping back
in a curve on each side. They also have a vertical white shoulder-bar
on each side, which can be a helpful field mark when trying to
distinguish the Green-winged Teal from the Eurasian race.
Green-winged Teal lives in shallow wetlands, preferring fresh
water for breeding, but is resident on both fresh and salt water
at other times of the year. Nesting habitat usually has trees
and shrubs. During winter and migration, wetlands with a lot
of emergent and floating vegetation are commonly used. Tidal
mudflats are used by this species more often than by any other
Teals usually gather in smallish flocks, but large flocks of
thousands are also seen. Active and agile, they forage in emergent
vegetation along shorelines and in wet, shallow, muddy areas,
mainly by dabbling their bills at the water’s surface.
Because of their small size and rapid wing-beats, these birds
in flight appear to move very fast.
Green-winged Teal’s diet is variable depending on season
and location, with more animal matter consumed during the spring
and summer, and more plants eaten in the fall and winter. Plant
matter usually consists of the seeds of grasses, sedges, and
pond-weeds. Animal matter is most often insect larvae, other
aquatic invertebrates, and sometimes fish eggs.
Teals usually arrive at the breeding grounds with pair bonds
formed. Nests are usually located in grasses and weeds in meadows,
open woodlands, or brush, and are usually within two hundred
feet of water. The female builds the nest on the ground. It is
well hidden by low vegetation that often is dense enough to form
a full canopy over the nest. The nest itself is usually a shallow
depression, filled with grasses, twigs, and leaves, lined with
down. Incubation is by the female alone, and lasts for 20 to
24 days, during which time the pair bond dissolves, and the male
leaves the nesting area. Within a few hours of hatching, the
8 to 9 ducklings leave the nest with the female to look for their
own food. They may all return to the nest at night for a few
days. The young fledge at about 35 days.
all populations of Green-winged Teal are migratory, although
they remain farther north during the winter than other species
of North American teal. After incubation begins, the males migrate
to molting grounds where they gather and go through a period
of flightlessness. The molt migration may be to a spot close
by, or may be over one hundred miles away. Fall migration occurs
over an extended period, beginning in late August and stretching
into early December. Females may move farther south than males.
Spring migration usually begins in February and lasts through
April. They often migrate over the ocean, sometimes in association
with sea ducks.
80% of the North American Green-winged Teal population breeding
north of the United States-Canada border, most of the breeding
grounds are away from human activity, and thus numbers have remained
fairly stable and are even increasing in some areas. In 1990
the population was estimated at over 3,000,000 birds. The Common
Teal, or Eurasian Green-winged Teal, a Eurasian subspecies of
the Green-winged Teal, is recorded in small numbers in Washington
in most years, and sightings have become more common, especially
in the late winter and early spring. The increase in sightings
may be due to an increase in birds, or an increase in reporting
rates due to more birders out there looking for them. The Common
Teal is currently considered the same species (although a different
subspecies) as the Green-winged Teal in North America. However,
British ornithologists recently split the two into different
species, and some speculate that the American Ornithologists
Union will soon follow their lead.