Teal are on the smaller end of duck species that are hunted across the country. Despite this, their vibrant colors and early migration make these ducks unique to waterfowl hunters. There are three species of teal in North America which are distributed from coast to coast. To help you be better informed when you head out into the field, here’s the background on these three sought-after birds.
Cinnamon teal males have a red eye, long dark-colored bill, and vivid brown-orange plumage. They also feature a brown back and white underwing. Female, immature, and nonbreeding male are mostly rich brownish overall. All adults have a sky-blue patch on thier open wings, similar to other teal and shovelers.
These birds are among the least abundant dabbling ducks in North America with breeding populations estimated at 100,000 to 300,000. While many of the waterfowl species can be found anywhere, these ducks are confined only to the central and western fly ways.
Blue wings offer hunters an early start to the season as they typically come through in September. However, they’re much more challenging to identify at this time because they haven’t fully plumbed. They’re small ducks that are most often found in shallow water marshes.
The drakes have a black bill and a dark-grey head with a white crescent patch. Their shoulder patches are baby blue, and their wing patches are white with green.
The hens are brown with a black bill. You can tell them apart from the drakes during the early season, but it’s tough when they’re in flight.
Green wings typically come through during the regular season; however, you might encounter a few during the early teal season. They’re small ducks most often found in shallow water areas.
The drakes have a black bill and red head with green eye patches and green wing patches. The hens are brown with a black and orange bill and green wing patches. As the season progresses, it’s easy to identify between drakes and hens.
A blue wing teal in flight shows green secondary color on the wings with light pastel blue shoulder patches. The most distinct marking of a blue wing teal is the white crescent on their face. No other species of teal shares this marking. Male Cinnamon Teal have bright cinnamon heads and bodies but can still have the same green and blue marking of the other species. Green-winged teal have a bright green feathers forming a stripe over and around their eyes along with the green wings. The pastel blue of the cinnamon and blue wing teel is not present in the wings of a green wing teal in flight.
Updated on December 6, 2022
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