|Conservation status||Populations apparently stable. Most Blue-wings winter south of the U.S., so management requires cooperation with Latin American nations.|
|Family||Ducks and Geese|
|Habitat||Fresh ponds, marshes. In summer on shallow freshwater marshes and ponds in open country, also brackish marshes near coast. In migration and winter on any kind of shallow waters, inland or coastal. Flocks in migration are sometimes seen over ocean, many miles offshore.|
Forages in very shallow water, gleaning items from surface or swimming forward with head partly submerged; seldom up-ends, and seldom feeds away from water.
9-13, sometimes 6-15. Dull white or tinged olive. Ring-necked Pheasants sometimes lay eggs in Blue-winged Teal nests. Incubation is by female only, 23-24 days. Young: leave nest within 24 hours after hatching. Young find their own food, are tended by female for first few weeks, but broods of young often left alone before old enough to fly. Young capable of flight 38-49 days after hatching.
Leave nest within 24 hours after hatching. Young find their own food, are tended by female for first few weeks, but broods of young often left alone before old enough to fly. Young capable of flight 38-49 days after hatching.
Mainly seeds. Diet is mostly plant material, especially seeds of various grasses, sedges, pondweeds, smartweeds, and others. Snails, bivalves, insects, crustaceans, and other animal matter may be important in the diet at some seasons.
Pair formation begins in early winter and continues during spring migration. Male has varied courtship displays, including one in which whole forepart of body is submerged, tail raised, feet waved in air. Nest site is on ground in prairie, hayfield, coastal meadow, sometimes several hundred yards from nearest water. Nest is a shallow depression with some grass or weeds added, lined with down; usually well concealed by surrounding vegetation.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Compared to most ducks, migrates relatively late in spring and early in fall. Migrates in flocks in fall, often in smaller flocks or isolated pairs in spring. Some southbound groups in fall are composed entirely of young birds, indicating that migratory route is instinctive, not learned. Blue-wings wintering in South America evidently migrate long distances over open ocean; flocks are sometimes seen many miles offshore.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsSoft lisping or peeping note. Female utters a soft quack.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Blue-winged Teal
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Blue-winged Teal
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.