Blue-winged Teals, Spatula discors
Blue-winged Teals can be found in a variety of wetland habitats, including marshes, ponds, flooded fields, and shallow lakes. They have a wide distribution across North America, breeding in the northern regions of the continent, including Alaska, Canada, and parts of the northern United States. During the non-breeding season, they migrate to wintering grounds in the southern United States, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.
Blue-winged Teals are dabbling ducks. They forage by dabbling their heads in the water often in shallow areas, and they graze on land. They primarily feed on plant material, including seeds, aquatic vegetation, grasses, and sedges. Additionally, they consume a variety of invertebrates such as insects, crustaceans, mollusks, and small aquatic invertebrates.
During courtship, males perform an aerial display known as “whistling wings.” This display involves rapid wingbeats accompanied by a whistling sound produced by air passing through the wings.
During the breeding season, Blue-winged Teals nest in grassy areas near wetlands. The female selects a nest site on the ground, often hidden among dense vegetation or near water. The nests are shallow depressions lined with plant material and down feathers. They are well-concealed to minimize the risk of predation.
Females typically lay 7-10 creamy white to pale buff-colored eggs. Incubation, which lasts for about 21-23 days, is primarily undertaken by the female. Once the eggs hatch, the precocial ducklings leave the nest and are led by the female to nearby water. The female provides guidance and protection, and the ducklings start feeding on their own, foraging for aquatic invertebrates and plant material.
Blue-winged Teal ducklings fledge within 30-35 days after hatching depending on environmental conditions and food availability.
During the non-breeding season, they undertake long-distance migrations, moving to warmer regions in the southern parts of their range. They can be found in a variety of wetland habitats during winter, including marshes, ponds, and coastal areas.
Blue-winged Teals are known for their sociable nature, often forming large flocks during migration and winter. They frequently associate with other waterfowl species, feeding and resting together in wetland habitats.