Blue-Winged Teal

Anatidae (ducks, geese, swans) in the order Anseriformes

Adult male is small with a dark gray head with a white crescent, a light blue patch on the forewing and a greenish speculum (a colorful wing patch). Female is brown with yellow legs, a dark eye line and a whitish spot between the bill and the eye. The female’s blue wing patches and gray-brown speculum separate it from the female green-winged teal, which lacks the blue wing patch, has a green speculum and lacks the white between bill and eye. Males make high peeps, females high-pitched quacks.

Length: 16 inches (tip of bill to tip of tail).
Habitat and conservation: 
These ducks are commonly seen on marshes, and in ponds and lakes especially in open country. Like other dabbling ducks, this species generally hops into the air directly from the water, without needing a running, flapping start. This species regularly breeds in Missouri. State and federal game laws regulate harvests to maintain healthy populations.
Blue-winged teal, like other dabbling ducks, are usually seen foraging on vegetation such as sedges, seeds and small invertebrates on the surface in shallow water with emergent vegetation. They rarely dive underwater.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Statewide at marshes, ponds and lakes.
Common migrant; locally uncommon summer resident in marshes.
Life cycle: 
Hens alone provide parental care; nests, concealed by overarching vegetation, are built on dry ground near water; 10–13 eggs are laid; these hatch in about 24 days. The ducklings take immediately to water. This species leaves early to overwinter along the Gulf of Mexico, in parts of southern California and Texas; many fly as far south as Peru, Brazil and Argentina. They arrive relatively late in spring and breed across much of the United States and Canada as far north as Alaska.
Human connections: 
Blue-winged teal are a popular quarry of duck hunters.
Ecosystem connections: 
Teals, at various stages of their life cycle and throughout their migrating range, provide food for a variety of predators. In turn, these ducks busily graze upon aquatic plants and invertebrates, helping to hold those populations in check.