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Green-winged Teal

Anas crecca

Length: 12 to 16 inches Wingspan: 20 to 24 inches Seasonality: Summer / Migrant

ID Keys MALES: Rusty head with green patch extending behind eye, white bar on site of chest,  yellow "tail-light"

ID Keys FEMALES: Gray bill, small size, dark eyeline, plumage similar to many female dabbling ducks

Green-winged Teal - Anas creccaGreen-winged Teal are a common, fast-flying dabbling duck, often forming tight compact flocks as they wheel and turn in unison.  Green-winged Teal tolerate cold weather better than other teal, and can thus be found further north in the winter. They also tend to arrive a bit earlier in the spring than some other ducks such as the Blue-winged Teal. They are the smallest of the "dabbling ducks" found in the United States. Males are rather distinctive if seen well, although the green "swoosh" through the eye is similar to that of an American Wigeon. Females are much more difficult to identify as they are similar in plumage to other dabbling duck females, although the small size helps differentiate them.


Marshes and shallow ponds and lakes in the breeding season.  Found in similar habitats during winter and in migration, but can also be found in shallow coastal bays and estuaries.


Primarily feeds on plant material, including seeds, grasses, and aquatic plants.  Also will eat insects, crustaceans, and mollusks.


Usually travels in small flocks, although at major migration stopovers, flocks may number in the thousands.  They rest out of the water more than many ducks, and can sometimes be found on low-hanging branches and logs.  Foraging is primarily by upending in shallow water, filtering mud through the bill, and by picking items from the water's surface.


Late May and June in South Dakota. The nest of a Green-winged Teal is built on the ground, sometimes up to a few hundred yards away from any water, in a clump of dense vegetation or in a similarly protected location. The nest itself is a depression, lined with down and surrounded and filled with leaves, grasses, and other vegetative material. The female lays between 6 and 12 eggs, and she alone incubates them. The young hatch after about 3 weeks. Within a day after hatching, the young are mobile and forage for themselves, but the female will protect them.


Green-winged Teals males primarily have a whistling song and call, while the females have a quacking call.

1Click here to hear the whistling calls of a male Green-winged Teal, recorded in Snohomish County, Washington.

2Click here to hear the quack of a female Green-winged Teal, recorded in Yavapai County, Arizona.


Summers throughout Canada, Alaska, and much of the northern and western United States. Winters in the southern half of the United States and points south, through Mexico and into Central America.

Interactive eBird Map:

Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Green-winged Teal sightings

Similar Species:

Males are generally easy to identify if seen well, while females are much more problematic. The following species are most likely to be confused with a Green-winged Teal:

Conservation Status:

Population trends are not well established, particularly at a regional level, although it's thought that overall populations are relatively stable. They are still common in many parts of their range, and are found over a very broad geographic area.  The IUCN currently lists the Green-winged Teal as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information:

1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Green-winged Teal

2) Audubon Guide - Green-winged Teal

3) WhatBird - Green-winged Teal

Photo Information:

April 1st, 2012 - Dewey Gevik Nature Area near Sioux Falls, South Dakota - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos:

Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Green-winged Teal photos.

Audio File Credits:

1Bruce Lagerquist, XC356905. Accessible at

2Paul Marvin, XC452502. Accessible at


Click on the range map for a higher-resolution view
Green-winged Teal - North American Range Map
South Dakota Status: Common migrant throughout South Dakota.  Uncommon summer resident, most common in the northeastern part of the state.  Rare in winter where open water exists.

Additional Green-winged Teal Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
Green-winged Teal 1 - Anas creccaGreen-winged Teal 2 - Anas creccaGreen-winged Teal 3 - Anas creccaGreen-winged Teal 4 - Anas creccaGreen-winged Teal 5 - Anas creccaGreen-winged Teal 6 - Anas creccaGreen-winged Teal 7 - Anas creccaGreen-winged Teal 8 - Anas crecca