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Green-winged Teal Identification

Green-winged Teal male

Green-winged Teal  –  Length: 14 inches,  Wing span: 23 inches

The Green-winged Teal is the smallest of the group known as dabbling ducks, which typically feed by tilting head-first into shallow water while foraging for seeds of aquatic plants as well as aquatic invertebrates. Male Green-winged Teal pair up with females during the winter, but depart once incubation begins.

The female Green-winged Teal usually lays one egg per day until her clutch is complete. At that time, she removes down from her breast to better insulate the eggs, and begins incubation. Although the young ducklings are able to feed themselves, the female broods them at night and during cold weather until they are larger.

 

Green-winged Teal female

Females are another primarily brown bird. The green in the speculum is not always visible. Green-winged Teals are very small. The identification of female Green-wings becomes much easier if you can compare its size to a nearby species. Photograph © Tom Grey.

Green-winged Teal male

Short legs and smallish bill.  Of the three teal species, the Green-winged has the smallest bill, the Blue-winged has a larger bill and the Cinnamon Teal has the largest bill.  Photograph © Greg Lavaty.

Green-winged Teal male

Note the vertical white bar on the side. Photograph © Tom Grey.

Green-winged Teal male

The white vertical bar on this bird is not as obvious as on the above photograph.  Note the fine vermiculation on the flanks. Photograph © Tom Grey.

Green-winged Teal male

Mucking around. Note the tail pattern of the bird at the very top of the image.  The plain looking females would be a tougher identification if not associated with the males.  Size can be an important clue for identification of the females.  Photograph © Sam Crowe.

Green-winged Teal male

Don’t ignore reflections. On rare occasions a reflection can reveal an otherwise hidden field mark. Photograph © Alan Wilson.

Green-winged Teal in flight

Note the pale under-wing linings. The combination of the dark head and the yellowish tail patch is a good mark. Photograph © Greg Lavaty.

Green-winged Teal in flight

Green-wing males have a green speculum and brown upper wing coverts. Photograph © Greg Lavaty.

Green-winged Teal in flight

Flaps down down for smooth landing. What about the duck in the background? Despite the fuzzy appearance and the rear view the bird can be identified.  Check out the Blue-winged Teal to see if you think it is a match.  Photograph © Greg Lavaty.

Green-winged Teal in flight

Females also have a green speculum. Note the white edging on the leading and trailing edge of the speculum. Photograph © Greg Lavaty.

Green-winged Teal in flight

Male and female. Photograph © Greg Lavaty.

Green-winged Teal in flight

Female Green-winged Teal. Relatively long, pointed wings indicates this species is fast in the air. Photograph © Greg Lavaty.

Green-winged Teal in flight

In this photo the green speculum looks blue.  Green-winged Teal females are often easier to identify in flight than when seen on the water.  The pattern of the top of the wing is much different than the other two teal species.  Photograph © Greg Lavaty.

Green-winged Teal in flight

Note the dark line though the eye on this female. Photograph © Photograph © Greg Lavaty..

Green-winged Teal in flight

Underwing linings are pale. Photograph © Greg Lavaty.

Green-winged Teal

A pair of females, but of what species?  Compare the markings around the eye, the pale area at the base of the bill and the impression of the size of the bill with the other female Green-winged Teal on this page. Photograph © Sam Crowe.

Green-winged Teal female

The green speculum makes this a little easier to identify,  Photograph © Glenn Bartley.

Green-winged Teal female

The smallish bill can help identify a Green-winged Teal but it takes experience to use this effectively.  Note the absence of an eye ring and the thin dark line through the eye.  Photograph © Alan Wilson.

Green-winged Teal female

What marks could be used to identify this female Green-winged Teal? Photograph © Sam Crowe.

Green-winged Teal female

How about this male? Photograph © Sam Crowe.

Green-winged Teal and Blue-winged Teal

A good comparison of male Green-winged and Blue-winged Teals. The size difference is easily noticeable.

About the Author

Sam Crowe

Sam is the founder of Birdzilla.com. He has been birding for over 30 years and has a world list of over 2000 species. He has served as treasurer of the Texas Ornithological Society, Sanctuary Chair of Dallas Audubon, Editor of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" web site and as a contributing editor for Birding Business magazine. Many of his photographs and videos can be found on the site.

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