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  ScienceZoologyBirdsOrder Anseriformes
male Green-Winged Teal (top) and female (bottom)Green-Winged Teal

Anas crecca


The smallest dabbling duck in the Americas, the green-winged teal is 13-17 inches long and weighs 13 ounces on average; males are slightly larger than females.

Males have a cinnamon-colored head with a distinctive green crescent spanning from one eye around the back of the head to the other eye; the sides and back are marked with tiny black and white stripes; wings and tail are tannish-brown, with pale yellow feathers along the side of the tail. Females are entirely tannish-brown except for a white chin and belly. Both sexes have a narrow, black bill.

Distribution and Habitat

The green-winged teal breeds throughout most of Canada, and from Alaska to Maine, and winters in the western and southern United States into Mexico and Central America. It is found in shallow inland wetlands, beaver ponds, and coastal marshes with heavy vegetation and muddy bottoms. Although it prefers fresh water, it will inhabit salt water areas, as long as there is fresh water available for drinking.


The breeding season runs from September through November, and egg laying usually occurs the following May. The nest, which usually consists of a depression in the ground lined with grasses hidden by low vegetation, is built entirely by the female while the male watches; he will leave the female as soon as she starts laying eggs. The average clutch consists of five or six eggs, which take about 23 days to hatch. Chicks are able to forage on their own soon after hatching, but typically stay near their mother for protection until fledging, which takes about 35 days. Sexual maturity is reached at 180 days.


The green-winged teal will feed on almost any plant or animal in high abundance, but tends to go after insects, marine invertebrates and seeds of marine vegetation.

Other Habits and Behaviors

Green-winged teals are rapid, agile flyers, and are the only ducks known to scratch while in flight. They do not dive for food, but will dive to escape predators. A fairly social duck, this species usually gathers in fairly small flocks, but flocks of thousands are not uncommon. They are not known to be territorial.

Males give out a distinctive high-pitched "preep-preep" call, while females communicate with "quacks."

Scientific Classification

phylum Chordata
subphylum Vertebrata
class Aves
order Anseriformes
family Anatidae
subfamily Anatinae
genus & species Anas crecca

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  The Robinson Library > Science > Zoology > Birds > Order Anseriformes

This page was last updated on December 17, 2014.

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