Blue-winged Teal Duck
Blue-winged Teal are small brown ducks. They have large blue patches on the front of their wings. The male has a white crescent in front of each eye and a white patch on the rump. The female lacks these white markings. Both sexes have black bills and yellow-orange feet.
Blue-winged Teal weigh slightly less than 1 pound. They measure 14-16 inches in length and have wingspans of 24 inches.
- One reason ducks are able to stay afloat in the water is because of air sacs inside their bodies that increase their buoyancy.
- Ducks' feathers trap air in between them, which is another adaptation that helps them to float. Their feathers are also covered with a waterproof substance that keeps the ducks warm and dry.
- Ducks' webbed feet allow them to maneuver easily in the water.
- Ducks are excellent fliers due to their streamlined bodies and powerful wings. Ducks and other birds also have hollow bones that weigh much less than the solid bones of mammals. This reduces their overall body weight and makes them light enough to fly.
- Ducks do not have teeth, but they do have bumpy edges on their bills that help them to filter food out of the water. Food is then swallowed and ground up in the gizzard, a part of the stomach that contains small rocks for breaking down food.
In the wild, Blue-winged Teal feed on aquatic plants, seeds, and aquatic invertebrates such as mollusks and crustaceans. At Cosley Zoo, they are fed a commercially prepared duck diet.
Blue-winged Teal nest in wetland areas, including shallow marshes, flooded ditches, and temporary ponds. Females change breeding sites each year in response to changing wetland conditions. The nest is a hollow of grass near the water which is filled with down feathers. The female lays about 10 eggs sometime in early June. She then incubates the eggs for 23-24 days until they hatch. Ducklings can immediately swim and find their own food, but their mother watches over them for 6 or 7 weeks until they start to fly.
Shelter and Space Needs
The Blue-winged Teal lives in shallow wetlands such as marshes, lakes, and flooded fields. These ducks migrate to the Southern United States and South America during the winter months.
Uncertain for this breed. In general, ducks live an average of 2 years in the wild and can live over 10 years in captivity.
Importance to Man
Blue-winged Teal are prey for many animals, including foxes, coyotes, and owls. They are also popular with hunters, and money spent on hunting licenses supports the conservation of wild animals and their habitat.
- According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Blue-winged Teal was the second most populous duck in the United States in 2005 (right behind the mallard).
- Why don't the ducks at Cosley Zoo fly out of the pond? They are pinioned, which means that a bone in their wing has been removed to prevent them from flying.
- The water in the Cosley Zoo duck pond often looks green, but that's not because it's dirty! The green dye that we put in there helps to block sunlight, which keeps algae from taking over the pond.
- A group of ducks is called a brace.