My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Blue-winged Teal, Anas discors

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

Blue-winged Teal, Anas discors

The Blue-winged Teal is a small dabbling duck from North America.

The Blue-winged Teal is 40 centimeters (16 in) long, with a wingspan of 58 centimeters (23 in), and a weight of 370 grams (13 oz). The adult male has a greyish blue head with a white facial crescent, a light brown body with a white patch near the rear and a black tail. The adult female is mottled brown, and has a whitish area at base of bill. Both sexes have sky-blue wing coverts, a green speculum, and yellow legs.

The range is all of North America except western and northern Alaska, northern Yukon Territory, northern Northwest Territory, northeastern Canada. Blue-winged Teal are rare in the desert southwest, and the west coast. The breeding habitat of the Blue winged Teal is marshes and ponds.

The Blue-winged Teal is primarily found in the northern prairies and parklands. It is the most abundant duck in the mixed-grass prairies of the Dakotas and the prairie provinces of Canada. The Blue-winged Teal is also found in wetlands of boreal forest associations, shortgrass prairies, tallgrass prairies, and deciduous woodlands.

Blue-winged Teal inhabit shoreline more often than open water and prefer calm water or sluggish currents to fast water. They inhabit inland marshes, lakes, ponds, pools, and shallow streams with dense emergent vegetation. In coastal areas, breeding occurs in salt-marsh meadows with adjoining ponds or creeks. Blue-winged Teal use rocks protruding above water, muskrat houses, trunks or limbs of fallen trees, bare stretches of shoreline, or mud flats for resting sites.

Blue-winged Teal build their nests on dry ground in grassy sites such as bluegrass meadows, hayfields, and sedge meadows. They will also nest in areas with very short, sparse vegetation. Blue-winged Teal generally nest within several hundred yards of open water; however, nests have been found as far as 1 mile (1.6 km) away from water. Where the habitat is good, they nest communally.

The onset of courtship among immature Blue-winged Teal often starts in late January or early February. In areas south of the breeding grounds, Blue-winged Teal are more active in courtship during the spring migration than are most other ducks.

Blue-winged Teal generally lay 10 to 12 eggs. Delayed nesting and renesting efforts have substantially smaller clutches, averaging five to six eggs. Clutch size can also vary with the age of the hen. Yearlings tend to lay smaller clutches.

Incubation takes 21 to 27 days. During incubation, the drake leaves its mate and moves to suitable molting cover where it becomes flightless for a period of 3 to 4 weeks.

Blue-winged Teal ducklings can walk to water within 12 hours after hatching but do not fledge until 6 to 7 weeks. Blue-winged Teal are sexually mature after their first winter.

Blue-winged Teal are surface feeders and prefer to feed on mud flats, in fields, or in shallow water where there is floating and shallowly submerged vegetation plus abundant small aquatic animal life. They mostly eat vegetative matter consisting of seeds or stems and leaves of sedge, grass, pondweed, smartweed , duckweed, Widgeongrass, and muskgrass. The seeds of plants that grow on mud flats, such as nutgrass, smartweed, millet, and Rice Cut-grass, are avidly consumed by this duck. One-fourth of the food consumed by Blue-winged Teal is animal matter such as mollusks, crustaceans, and insects.

On to my photos:

Male Blue winged teal

Male Blue winged teal

Male Blue winged teal

Male Blue winged teal

Female Blue winged teal

Female Blue winged teal

Male Blue winged teal

Male Blue winged teal

Blue winged teal

Blue winged teal

Blue winged teal

Blue winged teal

Blue winged teal

Blue winged teal

Male Blue winged teal

Male Blue winged teal

Male Blue winged teal

Male Blue winged teal

Male Blue winged teal

Male Blue winged teal

Blue winged teal in flight

Blue winged teal in flight

Blue winged teal in flight

Blue winged teal in flight

Blue winged teal in flight

Blue winged teal in flight

This is number 104 in my photo life list, only 246 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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6 responses

  1. Nice shots!

    June 13, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    • Thanks, good equipment and patience make all the difference.

      June 14, 2013 at 2:55 am

  2. I was hoping for a picture of the very very young ducklings walking to the water.

    June 13, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    • Sorry, maybe next year.

      June 14, 2013 at 2:54 am

  3. Love these guys. I never get that close to them to get a good image, but love your photos.

    June 16, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    • Thanks, it took me a dozen trips to Muskegon to get close to some of them.

      June 16, 2013 at 10:32 pm