Conservation status Very common and widespread.
Family Ducks and Geese
Habitat Marshes, rivers, bays. In summer, open country near shallow freshwater lakes and marshes. In migration and winter, found on coastal estuaries and tidal marshes, also on shallow lakes and ponds inland, seeming to prefer those with much standing or floating vegetation.
Our smallest dabbling duck. Very common and widespread, remaining through the winter farther north than other teal. Often rests out of the water, even standing on low snags or branches. Flocks in flight appear very fast because of small size, with rapid twisting and turning in unison. Typically travels in small flocks, but in winter or at migration stopovers, may gather in concentrations of thousands.

Feeding Behavior

Forages by wading or swimming in very shallow water while filtering mud with bill, up-ending, or picking items from water's surface. May feed by night or day.


6-11, rarely up to 15 or 18. Cream to pale buff. Incubation is by female only, 20-24 days, usually 21. Young: leave nest a few hours after hatching. Female cares for ducklings, which may return to the nest for the first few nights; young find all their own food. Young fledge at about 35 days.


leave nest a few hours after hatching. Female cares for ducklings, which may return to the nest for the first few nights; young find all their own food. Young fledge at about 35 days.


Mostly plant material. Diet quite variable with season and location. Feeds especially on seeds of grasses, sedges, pondweeds, many others. Also takes aquatic insects, crustaceans, mollusks, tadpoles; rarely earthworms, fish eggs. May feed more on animal matter in summer, seeds in winter.


Pairs usually arrive already mated on breeding grounds. In one courtship display, male rears up out of water, arching head forward and downward to shake bill very rapidly in water while giving a sharp whistle. Nest site is usually among grasses and weeds of meadow, sometimes in open woodland or brush, within 200' of water. Well hidden by surrounding grasses or shrubs, which often form complete canopy. Nest (built by female) is a shallow depression filled with grasses, twigs, and leaves, lined with down.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

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After breeding, adults may go through annual molt near nesting area or may move hundreds of miles in late summer before going through flightless stage of molt. Main fall migration much later, mostly October to early December. Females may move somewhat farther south than males, on average. Spring migration begins early, with mated pairs often traveling north together. The race of Green-wings on Aleutian Islands, Alaska, is mostly non-migratory. American Green-wings regularly stray to Europe, and Eurasian Green-wings occur annually in North America.

  • 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.

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Songs and Calls

Clear repeated whistle. Females quack.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Green-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 Near You

Climate threats facing the Green-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.