Blue-winged Teal

Anas discors

A small duck of shallow ponds, the Blue-winged Teal breeds across much of the central and northern United States and Canada. Rather dull in plumage overall, it reveals its powder-blue wing patch in flight.

Interesting Information

  • The Blue-winged Teal is among the latest ducks to migrate northward in spring, and one of the first to migrate southward in fall.

  • The Blue-winged Teal migrates over long distances. One individual banded in Alberta was shot in Venezuela a month later.


Adult Description

  • Small duck.

  • Brown or gray overall.

  • Large light blue patches on front of wing, visible in flight.

  • Male with white crescent on face.

  • Length Range: 38-43 cm (15-17 in)

  • Weight: 408 g (14.4 oz)

  • Size: Medium (9 - 16 in)

  • Color Primary: Brown, Buff, Sheen or Iridescence

  • Underparts: Buff with dark brown spotting.

  • Upperparts: Buff and brown.

  • Back Pattern: Scaled or Scalloped, Mottled

  • Belly Pattern: Solid

  • Breast Pattern: Spotted or speckled

Sex Differences

Male Description

Breeding (Alternate) Plumage

Blue-gray head with large white crescent behind bill. Cinnamon-brown body feathers, patterned with fine black marks. White patch on rear flank. Upper wing with light blue patch with white rear border. Back of wing iridescent green.

Eclipse (Basic) Plumage

Gray-brown overall, without white patches. Faint outline of white face crescent.

Female Description

Gray-brown overall, with small white area at base of bill. Bill dark. Light blue upper wing patch with narrow white border. Back of wing mostly brown, with little green.


Similar to adult female.


Photo taken from: The Sibley Field Guide by David Allen Sibley

© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Shallow ponds and seasonal and permanent wetlands.


Dabbles with just bill in water or tips up with entire head under water.


Aquatic invertebrates, seeds, and plants.



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
    Subfamily: Anserinae
Genus: Anas
Species: Anas discors

Similar Species

  • Female Cinnamon Teal very similar in appearance, but is warmer brown, less patterned, has a plainer face, and a longer bill.

  • Female Green-winged Teal is warmer brown, lacks white near the base of the bill, has a smaller bill, and lacks the blue wing patch.

  • Male Northern Shoveler has a similar wing pattern, but is larger, has a white chest, reddish flanks, and a huge bill.

  • Female Greater and Lesser Scaup have white patches at the base of their bills, but not in a thin crescent across a gray-blue face. They lack a white flank patch.

Bird Sound

Male's call is a loud, high whistle or a nasal bleat. Female gives loud, evenly spaced quacks.

Eggs look like this

Photo taken from: ARCTOS Collaborative Collection Management Solution