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Green-winged Teal
Anas crecca



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae

Physical Characteristics

About 12.5-16 inches (31-40 cm) in length, with a wingspan of 22-24 inches (55-60 cm), this is the smallest of the river, or dabbling, ducks (Forbush and May, 1955). The males' head is brown with a metallic green patch from the eye back to the crest. The upper parts, including the tail, are dark brown; the wing features a bright green speculum that may appear violet at certain angles; it is outlined in buffy brown and black. The underparts are white. The female is dark brown above, with the breast and flanks lighter; an iridescent speculum is similar to that of the male (Ligon, 1961).


Anas crecca has a diverse habitat due to its tremendous range; however, it seems to prefer small and shallow permanent ponds in the vicinity of woodlands with dense nesting foliage nearby (Johnsgard, 1978). Drainage ditches of the Rio Grande Valley as well as Bosque del Apache Refuge are nearby El Paso Region sites (Ligon, 1961).

Geographic Range

The carolinensis group of this species is found primarily in North America from western and northern Alaska eastward through the northern Yukon, northwestern and southern Mackenzie, southern Keewatin, northeastern Manitoba, northern Ontario, northern Quebec, north-central Labrador, and Newfoundland south to central Oregon, northern Nevada, northern Utah, Colorado, central South Dakota, southern Minnesota, southern Ontario, southern Quebec, northern Maine, and Nova Scotia. This group winters in the southern portions of its breeding range as well as south to Baja California, central Mexico, the Gulf Coast, southern Florida, and the Bahamas and Hawaii (American Ornithologists' Union, 1983).


A. crecca eats a variety of fairly small plant seeds, as well as the stems and leafy parts of pondweeds and the reproductive bodies of muskgrass. Occasionally small invertebrates, snails, and amphipods are also consumed (Johnsgard, 1978). They will also eat grain residues in flooded fields when available (Leopold, et al., 1981).

Reproductive Characteristics

The nests of this species are hidden very well in dense vegetation that allows minimal light penetration. The typical clutch is 8-10 eggs laid one per day. While the female is incubating the eggs for 21-23 days, the male has already left to molt. Due to fast growth, the young fledge at 35 days (Johnsgard, 1978). The eggs are buffy white in color (Ligon, 1961).


The Green-winged Teal is also known as the Green-wing and the Mud Teal. It is among the fastest fliers of the game-birds; it is also capable of quick turns. A good swimmer, it is also an excellent diver, though it rarely dives except to elude an enemy. It is also very active on its feet, walking and running well, even over fairly long distances. When frightened, it is able to rise from the water into direct flight. A tame species, it has been seen eating with barnyard ducks (Forbush and May, 1955).

Literature Cited

American Ornithologists' Union. 1983. Check-list of North American birds, 6th ed. Allen Press, Lawrence, 877 pp.

Forbush, E.H., and J.B. May. 1955. A natural history of American birds of eastern and central North America. Bramhall House, New York, 552 pp.

Johnsgard, P.A. 1978. Ducks, geese, and swans of the world. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 404 pp.

Leopold, A.S., R.J. Gutierrez, M.T. Bronson. 1981. North American game birds and mammals. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 198 pp.

Ligon, J.S. 1961. New Mexico birds and where to find them. The University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 360 pp.

Mary Kirschenbaum, July 1996; A. H. Harris, 20 February 2000.


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