The Green-winged Teal is a small brilliantly patterned dabbling duck. It gets its name from the green patch on its wings. The adult male has a cinnamon colored head with a green patch around and behind his eyes that is bordered underneath with a fine white line. His upper body is gray and his chest is creamy-white speckled with brown. He has a white stripe down his side between his chest and his wings. He has a black bill and black legs and feet. The female Green-winged Teal has a light brown head and neck and a whitish throat. Her upperside is dark brown and her underside is white. Both males and females have the distinct green patch on their inner wings as suggested by their name. The green patch of the female is however a little brighter than that of the male's patch. Green-winged Teal are between 14 to 17 inches long and have a wingspan of two feet.
The Green-winged Teal inhabits ponds, swamps and marshy lakes. The breeding regions of the Green-winged Teal are in northern Alaska, Manitoba, Quebec, California, Colorado, Nebraska and New York. They spend their winters in the southern states along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
The diet of the Green-winged Teal consists of berries, grain, and seeds of pondweeds, sedges, bulrushes and grasses. It dabbles into the water to sort through the mud and the food, and to pull up grasses and weeds from the edge of the water. It can travel a long distance from the water to find food. The young Teals eat insects.
The meat of the Green-winged Teal is red and looks like rare steak. It is tender and juicy, and its taste is more similar to steak than chicken.
The Green-winged Teal migrates early in large flocks, often flying low over water, spinning and circling in unison. The males usually lead the migration. The birds migrate during both day and night. The breeding season begins late in April and ends early in June. The female lays 6 to 20 eggs, laying only one per day. Long grass is used to build the nest in a depression and it is lined with leaves, grasses, weeds and down feathers. The female covers the eggs with down to keep them warm in her absence. Only the female incubates the eggs, and the chicks hatch after 21 to 23 days. The males leave the female after incubation. When the chicks are a day old, the female introduces them to the water. They mature after about a month. The females are very territorial when it comes to protecting their chicks. They work with fellow females to protect their broods from crows and skunks, and other predators that hunt them. The Green-winged Teals are a noisy species. The males have a distinctive high-pitched whistling, “preep-preep” vocalization whereas the females produce a sharp, shrill “quack” when flushed.
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