Green- Winged Teal

by Caren Moyer

Scientific Name

Anas crecca

Order: Anseriformes

Family: Anatidae


The Green- Winged Teal are the smallest ducks in North America. They have a short neck and small bill. The males and females have differences between their appearances. Males have a chestnut head with a green to purple patch extending from the eyes to the neck. Their chest is pinkish- brown with black speckles. Males also have a distinctive high- pitched "preep- preep." On the other hand, females are brown with a dark brown line that extends from the bill through the eye. They are relatively silent but has a sharp, high "quack" when flushed.

Green- winged teal breed from across Canada into the United States. They prefer small, shallow permanent ponds near forests of emergent vegetation, but also in prairie country. They lay an average of 8-9 eggs. The ducks migrate from Alaska to as far as South America. They are most abundant along the Mississippi flyway. They are common winter visitors to Central America.

In 1962, the population of the duck was at an all -time low of 722,000. In 2009, the population was at 3.4 million. Green- winged teal feed on seeds of sedges, smartweeds, pondweeds, grasses, an tadpoles.

*The above photo is of the male and female.

Breeding: At A Closer Look

The Green- winged Teal breeds in every Canadian province and territory along with a few northern states in the US. It is the third most abundant breeder in the Arctic. Greenwings form pair ponds relatively late in the season compared with dabbling ducks. After an elaborate sequence of displays, the female will show her approval by performing her display next to her mate of choice. Once the pair is ready to mate, they will perform head pumping, and then will copulate on the water. Nesting females will choose and are to nest that is well concealed. The female will also use her body feathers to aid in keeping the eggs warm, dry, and concealed. She will incubate her eggs for approximately three weeks after her last egg is laid. Once her ducklings have hatched, she moves them to water within the first day. Often ducklings are unable to maintain a high body temperature when first hatched, and the female will continue to breed during we and cold periods.