Blue-winged Teal - Spatula discors
The blue-winged teal is small duck 14-16 inches in length with a wingspan of 22-24 inches. The male has a grayish-brown body with darker spots and a gray head. He has a white crescent-shaped patch on his face and a white patch on the side of his rump. The female is mottled brown. Both the male and the female have a blue patch on the front of their wings that can be seen when they are in flight. They have both have a black bill and yellow legs and webbed feet. After breeding, the male molts and has a mottled brown body that is similar to the female's plumage
The blue-winged teal breeds across most of North America, with the exception of the Arctic areas of Canada, the southwest, the southeast, and the Appalachian region. It winters in the southern United States from the southern Atlantic states and the Gulf states west to Southern California.
The blue-winged teal is a dabbling duck, It feeds on the water's surface and sticks its head just under the water to feed. It eats seeds, vegetation, and aquatic invertebrates. . It may also eat mollusks, crustaceans, and tadpoles.
Male and female pairs form in the winter and continue through spring migration. The female lays 6-14 white eggs in a shallow depression on the ground or in a grassy area near the water. The nest is lined with grasses and down and is usually well hidden by vegetation. The male guards the nest while the female is incubating the eggs. The chicks hatch in 23-27 days. The chicks are precocial and leave the nest shortly after hatching and swim and find food on their own within a day. The female stays with the chicks for a few weeks but leaves before they can fly. The chicks fledge when they are 35-44 days old.
The blue-winged teal is one of the first ducks to migrate in the fall and it often reaches its winter ground as early as August. Blue-winged teals migrate in small flocks and have a strange flight pattern that includes quick turns and twists done in unison.
Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Andrew Spencer