Blue-winged Teal

Anas discors
Blue-winged Teal specimens on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

Like all teals, the Blue-winged Teal is smaller than most ducks (15-16 inches). The male is easily identified by the large, crescent-shaped white patches on the sides of its head and by its specked breast and sides. Like many male ducks, the male Blue-winged Teal takes on an ‘eclipse’ plumage in fall and early winter that is drab-brown overall and resembles the plumage of female and juvenile Blue-winged Teals. Both sexes have large blue patches on the wings. Blue-winged Teals breed across the United States and Canada, although somewhat further south than many related duck species. In summer, this species may be found from southern Alaska across to southeastern Canada south to the Mid-Atlantic region, the Ohio River Valley, the southern Great Plains, and in the mountain west. Blue-winged Teals also migrate further south than most North American ducks, wintering along the southern Atlantic and Pacific, and Gulf coasts, in Florida, in Texas, and south into Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies. In summer, Blue-winged Teals breed in small ponds with plentiful insects, larvae, mollusks, and crustaceans, all of which feature highly in this duck’s diet during the breeding season. In winter, this species may be found on mudflats and in fresh and brackish marshes. In the tropics, Blue-winged Teals may also be found in saltwater wetlands dominated by mangroves. Blue-winged Teals may be seen either on land or in the water, where they may be observed foraging for food. This species may also be observed undertaking straight, swift flights on migration or between breeding or foraging grounds. Blue-winged Teals are most active during the day.

DC Information

Common summer resident and migrant. Arrives in early March, nests from mid-April to early August, leaves by mid-November. Found in tidal and inland ponds and in marshes. Only the male has the white crescent on the face.

Specimen Information

The male is on the left.
Date: April 1862
Collected By: C Drexler
Locality: Washington, DC
Sex: Male
Catalog ID: 25902
The bird on the right is a female.
Date: September 10, 1937
Collected By: EM Hasbrouck
Locality: near Marlborough, MD
Sex: Female
Catalog ID: 351738

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC45480 Anas discors (Blue-winged Teal)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC45481 Anas discors (Blue-winged Teal)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC52151 Anas discors (Blue-winged Teal)