Blue-winged Teal Ducks
People raise Blue Winged Teal Ducks for many different reasons. Aviculturists raise them as part of mixed collections, and some people raise them simply for their beauty.
During breeding season, the male Blue Winged Teal Duck has a bright white crescent around his eyes, a head sometimes described as steel blue and others as purple-blue, and the majority of his body is buff with dark brown spots. The wings have a green speculum and a pale blue shoulder patch that is visible in flight. Males have a dark blue-black bill and yellow legs.
The female is less dramatically colored, and very similar to the Cinnamon Teal hen. Her bill is a lighter grey-blue, and her legs yellow. Females also have the light blue wing patch, but are otherwise brown and buff patterned.
Range: Depending on the source of information and the year you are researching, Blue Winged Teals are either the second or third most common duck in the US in the wild. They are highly migratory and their range includes areas from northern Canada to the northern parts of South America.
Habitat: Blue Winged Teal Ducks prefer areas with abundant fresh water sources — ponds, lakes, lagoons, and even swamps. The central grasslands of north America are their favorite breeding grounds. They travel farther south, and earlier than any other duck for the winter.
Status in the Wild: The population of Blue Winged Teal Ducks is plentiful and stable.
Status in Aviculture: With so many Blue Winged Teals in the wild, it is no surprise that they are relatively common in aviculture as well.
Breeding and Incubation: Though Blue Winged Teal Ducks are among the first to migrate in the spring, they nest late in the season, usually in April and May. They often form pairs before leaving the wintering grounds, and sometimes en route to the breeding grounds. Hens lay an average of 10 to 12 eggs per clutch, and incubate them for 21 to 27 days.
Lifespan: As is the case with most birds in the wild, it is unusual for Blue Winged Teals to survive more than a few years. However, in captivity — or if they are very lucky in the wild — they can live as long 17 years.
Mature Weight: Blue Winged Teal Ducks are smaller than many other types of duck. Both sexes of Blue Winged Teals weigh between 8.1 to 19.2 ounces.
Housing Requirements: In captivity, these ducks require a secure pen. They are highly migratory and will fly away if they can. They also need a supply of fresh water and warmth in the winter.
Diet: Dabbling ducks, including Blue Winged Teal Ducks, don’t dive for food — or at least not often. They eat insects and plant matter from the shallows instead. Blue Winged Teals are dabblers, and usually feed around dusk.
Miscellaneous: Drakes lose their distinctive white crescent when it is not breeding season. Because of their migration pattern, Blue Winged Teals are gone from many areas of the US before duck hunting season begins.