The Blue Winged Teal
The male blue winged teal is the only small duck with a white facial crescent. Both genders have a blue patch on the forewing. These signs help make the blue winged teal an easy duck to identify. They are about 15 inches long.
In the eastern half of the United States, the blue winged teal breeds from Hudsons Bay south to north of a line from Texas to Maine. They winter in the Gulf States and are a year around resident in portions of eastern Texas, and western Louisiana.
The blue winged teal is strictly a surface feeder, finding its food in shallow muddy waters, unique to surface feeding ducks. This bird does not tip its feet and tail but extends its neck in more shallow places to feed. Their preferred habitat is fresh ponds and marshes.
This duck’s flight is erratic and fast. Some experts say this specie can fly at speeds over 100 miles per hour and interestingly, the green wing teal is even faster. So fast is the flight of the blue winged teal that Audubon stated in 1840 “the flight of the blue winged teal is extremely rapid and well sustained. Indeed, I have thought that, when traveling, it passes through the air with a speed equal to the passenger pigeon.”
This bird’s voice can be described as a whistling peep, while the female’s is a quack similar to the green winged teal’s. While swimming, they sit low in the water with bills pointed somewhat downward.
Built by the female in two to seven days, nests are built on dry ground that is near water. Looking like a basket, they are well built. Also done by the female, incubation lasts about 24 days with about a dozen eggs that are dull white or pale olive-white and oval to long-oval in shape being incubated immediately after the last egg is laid.
A resident in all of Minnesota, the blue winged teal is often near the top, number-wise, of ducks successfully hunted. They can live up to about 17 years of age.