Green-winged Teal

One of our more attractive "winter ducks," green-winged teal are also the smallest surface-feeding duck in North America.  After breeding on marsh-line ponds and estuaries across Alaska, Canada, the northernmost U.S. and the Intermountain West, these dabblers winter throughout most of the U.S. but may turn up as far south as Central America or the Caribbean.

Preferring shallow waters with emergent vegetation, green-winged teal often gather in sizable flocks during the colder months; though they consume a mixed diet (including aquatic invertebrates) on their breeding grounds, their winter diet consists primarily of seeds.  Racing above winter wetlands in tight squadrons, they can usually be identified at a distance, especially since their cinnamon and blue-winged cousins depart for warmer climes by mid autumn.

The colorful markings of the male and the small size of these teal make them a favorite among birders.  Like buffleheads, another small winter duck, we admire their hardiness and appreciate their "willingness" to share (and brighten) our harsh winter environment.