Green-winged Teal

Common Name: Green-winged Teal

Class:  Aves

Order: Anseriformes

Family: Anatidae

Genus: Anas

Species: Anas crecca

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Taxonomy/Description

 

The Green-winged Teal is in the family Anatidae.  This family is made up of ducks and duck-like waterfowl.  The members of this family share adaptations to life on the water including webbed feet, flattened bills, and feathers with special oils to prevent water absorption.  The word teal is thought to have originated from the medieval English word, tele, which means small.  This refers to the duck’s small size.  The Green-winged Teal is the smallest dabbling duck in the Americas.  It is called the Green-winged Teal because it has a green speculum on its wings.  Its genus, Anas, means duck and its species, crecca, is the Latin onomatopoeia of a creaking noise which the males commonly make.  The Green-winged Teal is a dimorphic species.  This means that the male and female differ in their coloration.  The male has a cinnamon colored head with an iridescent green patch from its eye to the back of its head.  Its body is gray and its chest is speckled.  It also has a vertical white line in front of its wing.  The female Green-winged Teal is mottled brown. Both the male and female of the species have a green speculum and a narrow, black bill.

 

Habitat/Diet

 

The Green-winged Teal can be found in shallow inland and coastal wetlands.  It is often found in water with dense tree cover, heavy aquatic vegetation, and muddy bottoms.  The Green-winged Teal can be found throughout North and Central America during different times of the year.  It winters along the western coast of the United States as well as the southern United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean.  It breeds in Alaska, Canada, and the northern United States including Western New York.  The Green-winged Teal is an opportunistic feeder.  This means that it will consume whatever animal or plant species is in abundance.  It eats a variety of different foods including seeds, aquatic vegetation, insect larvae, aquatic insects, small crustaceans, and mollusks.     

 

Behavior/Reproduction

 

The Green-winged Teal is a dabbling duck.  This means that it feeds by inverting its body on the surface of the water instead of diving.  It is also an agile flier and flying flocks often resemble waders with their rapid maneuvering in the air.  The Green-winged Teal is very social outside the breeding season and will often form large flocks.  Predators of the Green-winged Teal include the Red fox, the Northern Harrier, and the Peregrine Falcon.  The Striped skunk, the Black-billed Magpie, and the American Crow also prey upon Green-winged Teal eggs.  In response to an approaching predator, it has been documented to increase its amount of scanning and increase its amount of flying.  The Green-winged Teal is generally a monogamous species with breeding pairs forming each March on the wintering grounds.  Paired males try to force extra-pair copulation, but unpaired males do not.  The female selects and creates a nest site with the male trailing behind her.  The nest is a seven to fifteen centimeter deep impression in the ground made by the female’s feet.  After laying the first egg, the female will use surrounding vegetation to fill in the nest.  After all of the eggs are laid, the nest is filled in with down.  The clutch is usually six to nine eggs that are creamy white to pale olive buff in color.  The female provides the parental care, but when hatched, the ducklings are able to swim, dive, walk, and forage on their own. 

 

Where to see them in WNY

 

The Green-winged Teal can be found in WNY during the spring and fall migrations.  It is also possible to see it during the summer breeding season.  Look for the duck in shallow marshes or ponds that have some tree cover.

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