Blue-Winged Teal

Spatula discors
Range Map

The Blue-Winged Teal breeds across most of the USA and Canada, except the Southwest and Southeast USA. As breeding habitat, they prefer sparsely covered prairies and parkland. During winter months, they migrate south and stay in fresh or brackish marshes and lakes. Their winter range extends from the North American coastlines and the south USA states, Mexico, Central America and northern South America. Texas hosts a non-migrating population of Blue-Winged Teal.

These dabblers are abundant in North America. Only the Mallard has a larger population. Females build their nests in well-concealed places, usually hidden from view from all directions, including from above. After reaching the breeding grounds, it may take days to decide on a proper nesting site. The male stands guard while the hen explores the area for a suitable site. These ducks spend less time on the breeding grounds than most dabblers, heading north late and leaving early.

Science does not recognise any subspecies of Blue-Winged Teal (i.e. they are monotypic).

I once met a hen in the Canadian Yukon with a half-dozen ducklings in tow. In Texas, Blue-Winged Teals were one of the more common dabbling ducks in the region. Whether in the marshes on South Padre Island, or the resacas at Sabal Palm Sanctuary, these sharp-dressed ducks were well represented in the region.

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