With a North American population of 6.6 million for 2008, the Blue-winged Teal population is moving in the right direction. Teals are ducks who are smaller than the average. Other teals in Orange County include the Cinnamon Teals and Green-winged Teals. Blue-winged Teals have been known to hybridize with Cinnamon Teals, and Northern Shovelers. Blue-winged Teals prefer shallow water and can be found at Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve, Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, and other similar Orange County environments.
Blue-winged Teals have the diagnostic vertical crescent on each side of the face just behind the bill. The blue patch for which they are named is on the shoulder and only visible if they stretch out their wings or fly. Both male and female are finely patterned with a brownish color over most of their body. Females look very similar to the female Cinnamon Teals and have a broken white eye-ring and white at the base of the bill and otherwise are brown. They can be found from Alaska to South America. Like all teals, it is a dabbling duck. It inhabits ponds and wetlands eating aquatic plants and seeds, and aquatic invertebrates.
Interesting view of double-crescents from the front.
The Blue-winged teal winters in Orange County and areas south. It breeds in Canada and Alaska and the Midwest.
Male Blue-winged Teal. Notice the white spot by the tail.
Blue-winged Teals can be found hanging out with other ducks at wetlands and ponds. Usually you will see mixed flocks of Cinnamon Teals, Green-winged Teals, Northern Pintails, Scaups, and Mallards. You won't see them at community parks. These are wilder ducks.
Blue-winged teal drake and dabbling Blue-winged hen.
When you are out birding in the fall and winter, and even the very beginning of spring, look for the Blue-winged Teal.
OC Birder Girl Links
Wild Ducks of Orange County
Cinnamon Teal--Anas cyanoptera
Green-winged Teal--Anas crecca
Taking a rest on the shore.
External Links and Resources
All About Birds: Blue-winged Teal
Detailed page about Blue-winged Teals.
Animal Diversity Web: Blue-winged Teal
Very Detailed page about Blue-winged Teals.
Ducks Unlimited: Blue-Winged Teal
Information about the Blue-winged Teal.
HYBRID OF BLUE-WINGED TEAL x SHOVELLER IN NORTHWESTERN CALIFORNIA by
FRANK A. HALL and STANLEY W. HARRIS
Journal article on a hybrid Blue-winged Teal and Northern Shoveler.
Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center: Blue-winged Teal
Photos of the Blue-winged Teal
US Geological Survey: Blue-winged Teal
Short article with pictures.