Friday, December 17, 2021

Green-Winged Teal

I finally saw a green-winged teal on Thanksgiving Day in Port Aransas, Texas at the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center. What was nice about this first encounter was that there were lots of them and they were close. They are apparently common and widespread, but have been decidedly rare in my world. I've seen lots of ducks in lots of places and they have avoided my gaze. 

The breeding male is a visual feast. It has a black eye and bill, a chestnut head with a green patch over the eye that extends down the head and neck and reminds me of an upside down Nike swoosh. It has a vertical white strip on the side of the breast and a flesh colored breast with mottled spots of varying clarity of brown. The breast and head are separated by a necklace of gray which then extends back and widens on the shoulders and flanks. Other distinguishing characteristics are a triangular creamy yellow rear-end edged in black and a white edged green speculum on the secondary wing feathers that are seen in flight or partially seen when it is preening or stretching.   

Females are light brown and look a lot like a female mallard, but distinguished by the green speculum and creamy yellow rear-end. 

This range map from Wikipedia shows that they breed in Canada, Alaska and northern U.S., are found year-round in much of the western U.S. and winter in the rest of the U.S., the Caribbean, Mexico and into Central America. 
Light green is breeding/summer range, blue is non-breeding/wintering range and dark green is year-round range. 

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