e Blue-winged Teal is a small, dabbling duck that is only about 16 inches (40 cm) long, with a wingspan of 23 inches (58 cm) and weighing in at only 13 ounces (370 g). The adult male has a rounded slate blue head with a crescent shaped band of feathers behind its black bill and in front of its black eyes. The male has a light brown body with a white patch near the rear and a black tail, and shows a blue patch with a white border on its fore wings, especially when in flight. The adult female is a mottled or scalloped grey-brown with a whitish patch at the base of the tail and bill, and a dark line through its black eye.
- A dabbling duck feeds on the surface on vegetation or water insects just ducking its head under water, or by tipping right up, pointing its tail end upwards while feeding on submerged vegetation
- The Blue-winged Teal’s formal name (Anis discors) comes from the Latin words for “a duck” (Anis) and discors or “disc about the mouth” which may refer to the face pattern of the male.
- This is the most common teal in Alberta’s grassland and parkland areas. Although it is found in the right habitat throughout the province, the Blue-winged Teal is most common in central and southern Alberta.
- This dabbler is most often found in the calmer waters of marshes, sloughs, ponds and the weedy edges of small lakes. Nests are built in concealing grasses or vegetation on dry land, but near to water.
- This little duck hangs out in pairs or small groups spending most of their time foraging in shallow waters.
- In the late summer, the Blue-winged Teal undergoes a moult (during which they shed their old feathers and grow new ones), which prevents them from flying so they will spend this time in prairie sloughs or large marshes with good food supplies.
- These dabblers are the first ducks to go south in the fall and the last ones to arrive north for the breeding season in the spring. It is likely that they leave early and arrive back late because they are long distance migrators, some going as far as South America – a Blue-winged Teal banded in Alberta was found in Venezuela a month later!
If you find an injured or orphaned wild bird or animal in distress, please contact the Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society hotline at 403-239-2488, for tips, instructions and advice, or look at the website at www.calgarywildlife.org for more information.