Saturday, April 11, 2015

Blue-winged Teal

Blue-winged Teal (BWT) are just about the first duck species to migrate in the fall and the last to migrate in the spring. This means they are not hunted as heavily since they are mostly gone before the hunting season starts.

The male BWT has a distinctive white crescent-shaped patch in front of the eye. When not in breeding plumage, as he is here, he resembles the female. Both sexes have the sky-blue patch on their wings that give them their name.

Their preferred habitat is exactly the type of shallow marsh pond found outside North Beach. They also have a preference for quiet, calm waters and like to haul out on low lying objects just above water to rest and preen.

BWT are among the smaller dabbling ducks. In this image, a comparison with a sandpiper — a small bird in it's own right — highlights how small they are. The way the female has dipped her head below water is a pretty standard attitude for feeding. They do this so much, it is difficult to obtain pictures of them with their head above water!

BWT become flightless during their molting period which can last up to four weeks. I would think that would have to be a dangerous time for them. The molt occurs after the nesting season is finished.

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