South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Blue-winged Teal

Anas discors

Length: 15 inches Wingspan: 27 inches Seasonality: Summer

ID Keys MALES:  White crescent on face, white patch on flank, blue wing patch seen in flight

ID Keys FEMALES: Dark eye-line, white eye arcs, white at bill base and throat, large size pattern on body

Blue-winged Teal - Anas discorsBlue-winged Teals are generally warm-season ducks, usually avoiding cold weather more than many other North American ducks.  Large numbers may fly non-stop over open ocean to wintering grounds in South America.  The photo to the right depicts both a female (back) and male (foreground).

Habitat: Shallow freshwater ponds and marshes, flooded ditches. 

Diet: Mostly plant material, including aquatic plants, seeds, and waste grain.  Also eats crustaceans and insects.

Behavior: Forages in very shallow water, swimming with head submerged or picking items off the surface of the water.  They are often found in small flocks along the water's edge.

Nesting: Late April through July.  The nest of a Blue-winged Teal is a depression on the ground, lined with grasses and weeds, with a final layer of feathers and down.  The female usually lays 8 to 13 eggs, and the female alone incubates them.  The young leave the nest soon after hatching and find their own food, but the female will tend to them for about 3 weeks.  The yong fledge after about 6 weeks.

Song: Quack from females, louder chyerk from male. 

Migration: Winters along southern U.S. coasts and down through Mexico, Central America, and South America.

Interactive eBird Map: Click to access an interactive eBird map of Blue-winged Teal sightings

Similar Species: Male rather distinctive with face markings, female similar to many duck species, especially to the Cinnamon Teal.

Conservation Status: Common and widespread, with no noticeable declines in populations.  The IUCN lists the Blue-winged Teal as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Blue-winged Teal

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Blue-winged Teal"

3) Blue-winged Teal

Photo Information: March 31st, 2012 -- Minnehaha County near Sioux Falls -- Terry L. Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Blue-winged Teal photos.


Click on the range map for a higher-resolution view
Blue-winged teal - Range map
South Dakota Status: Common migrant and summer resident statewide.  Rare in winter.