Among the many smallest and most widespread puddle geese, teal are discovered everywhere in the world. They’re floor and shallow-water feeders that desire small marshes and ponds, sheet-water, and some other surroundings the place they will skim and dabble for invertebrates and seeds. North America is house to 3 teal geese, all of that are vital to waterfowl hunters, in addition to to birdwatchers and anybody who enjoys wildlife.

Hunters know teal as birds which might be typically straightforward to decoy, however speedy and troublesome to shoot. Teal are prized by many as tablefare, and a bonus early teal season in lots of states offers hunters added alternative to focus on certainly one of our sportiest duck species. As a bunch, teal geese are identifiable by their small measurement and for the tight formations wherein they fly. Indvidually, every species has distinctive markings that additionally give the birds their names. Bluewing teal have giant, baby-blue wing patches; greenwing teal’s wings have an iridescent inexperienced patch; cinnamon teal even have blue wing-patches, however the drake is wearing attractive reddish feathers from head to tail.

Studying the habits and life historical past of teal geese can assist you discover them and perceive extra about them, whether or not your aim is to see them within the wild, hunt them, or each.

Bluewing Teal

Bluewing drakes have powerd-blue wing patches and a white half-moon patch on their heads. MNPerspective / Adobe Inventory

Look, Vary, and Habitat

Named for the big, powder-blue patches on their wings, bluewing teal are additionally distinguished by the white half-moon patch on the top of the drakes. They’re small geese, weighing underneath a pound and measuring about 16 inches lengthy. Breeding throughout a lot of Canada and the US, together with Alaska, the bluewing teal is widespread in all places however elements of the Pacific flyway. Their migration takes them as far south as Central America and even Brazil. These teal geese desire shallow ponds wetlands, and are largely birds of recent water, though they’ll use brackish coastal marshes and lagoons.

Feeding Habits

Bluewing teal are floor feeders, preferring to skim slightly than tip up like many different dabbling geese. The truth is, the bluewing’s invoice bears a household resemblance to the invoice of its cousin, the shoveler, and it feeds the identical method, on vegetation and bugs on or simply beneath the water’s floor. Bluewings are omnivorous, though they swap to a primarily plant food plan in winter.

Breeding, Nesting, and Migrating Habits

A drake and hen bluewing real on the water
The bluewing hen (left) has blue wing patches however lacks the white crescent on the top of the drake. stuckreed / Adobe Inventory

Bluewing teal nest in grass close to water. Whereas they breed in a lot of the US and Canada, the shallow wetlands of the prairie pothole area of the higher Midwest and the Canadian prairie are particularly vital breeding grounds. Male bluewings show by dipping their heads within the water and bobbing them up and down. Females present curiosity by pointing their invoice on the male and elevating and reducing their heads. Females usually selected one from amongst many courting males. Teal pair simply lengthy sufficient to breed, then select new mates the next spring.

Females could spend a number of days in search of the appropriate nesting spot earlier than digging a bowl within the floor and lining it with grass and down. She’s going to lay a clutch of 6 to 14 eggs, and the chicks are prepared to depart shortly after they hatch.

Bluewing teal like heat climate. They’re the primary geese emigrate within the fall and the final to fly north within the spring. They’re long-range migrants, too. Bluewings will start touring south in August. Whereas some will winter within the excessive southern United States, most will hold going to Cuba, Central America, and even Brazil and Venezuela.

Greenwing Teal

Drake greenwing teal swimming along the blue surface of a lake
A stunning greenwing drake. These teal are North America’s smallest puddle geese. TimBardy / Adobe Inventory

Look, Vary, and Habitat

Our smallest puddle duck, the greenwing teal weighs underneath a pound and is identifiable by inexperienced wing-patches. Drakes have good-looking red-and green-marked heads. Regardless of their similarity in identify and measurement, and the truth that generally they journey collectively, greenwing teal and bluewing teal are usually not carefully associated. You’ll be able to see the distinction within the payments of the 2 birds: the bluewing’s invoice is broad, like that of its cousin, the shoveler, whereas the greenwing has a slimmer, extra mallard-like invoice. The drake greenwing makes a particular peep sound.

Greenwinged teal geese are widespread, populous, and located in all 4 flyways. They breed in a lot of the northern U.S. and all through Canada and Alaska, and so they winter all through the southern US and Mexico. A separate, barely bigger race of greenwing teal, the Aleutian teal, breeds and lives year-round within the Aleutian chain.

Greenwing teal are largely present in smaller ponds and marshes in addition to in short-term sheet-water and a few man-made our bodies of water, similar to agricultural fields.

Feeding Habits

These teal geese eat seeds and invertebrates, skimming, dipping, and tipping to achieve their meals. They swap to a primarily seed food plan within the chilly climate and also will feed in flooded rice fields.  Younger teal feed on insect larva.

Breeding, Nesting, and Migrating Habits

A small group of greenwings flying low over a marsh
Greenwings are inclined to fly low, quick, and in tight formations, making for troublesome targets. AGAMI / Adobe Inventory

Greenwing teal geese nest in all kinds of habitats. Many do nest in grasses surrounding shallow wetlands within the prairie pothole area, however they will additionally nest in wooded areas round beaver ponds and streams. Previous to nesting, greenwing teal type pair bonds on the wintering grounds, with flocks of as much as 25 drakes flying and displaying to draw females.

Whereas some greenwing teal be a part of early flocks of migrating bluewinged teal geese, the vast majority of greenwings migrate in a while within the fall and are available north forward of the warm-weather-loving bluewings within the spring as effectively. Hardy geese, greenwings don’t journey as far south as bluewings, both. Many will winter within the southern U.S. and Mexico, in addition to in Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.

Cinnamon Teal

Drake cinnamon teal flowing low above a lake's blue surface
A drake cinnamon teal, flying low over a California lake. AGAMI / Adobe Inventory

With their full-body coat of pink feathers, Cinnamon teal drakes are an unmistakable sight within the western third of the US and all through Mexico the place they reside. Different subspecies of cinnamon teal reside in South America, making it the one duck widespread to each north and south America.

Look, Vary and Habitat

Weighing slightly below a pound at most, cinnamon teal geese are about the identical measurement as bluewing teal. They share a powder-blue patch on every wing as effectively, and black payments. The payments are barely longer and broader than that of the bluewing. Feminine, immature, and non-breeding males all put on a colorless, brownish coat of feathers. In contrast to bluewing and greenwing teal geese, which nest all through Canada, cinnamon teal don’t breed a lot north of the U.S./Canada border. Their most well-liked habitat consists of enormous, everlasting wetlands with lots of emergent vegetation. Nonetheless, they will adapt to quite a lot of wetland varieties and flooded agricultural fields. Cinnamon teal are discovered all through the western United States and virtually all of Mexico.

Feeding Habits

Cinnamon teal feed on seeds and small invertebrates, identical to so many different dabbling geese. They like to skim for his or her meal, and they’ll typically feed collectively in a good bunch, which can assist them fire up meals.

Breeding, Nesting, and Migrating Habits

Drake and hen cinammon teal flying with blue sky in background
The hen cinnamon teal (proper) has a blue wing patch, however is in any other case drab-colored in contrast the drake. Susan Hodgson / Adobe Inventory

Late winter and early spring is courting time for cinnamon teal geese. Males fly collectively in courtship flights and preen and show for the females. The hen point out curiosity by swimming in entrance of a male, whereas pumping her head or opening her invoice are indicators of rejection. As soon as bonded, the feminine chooses a nest website in grass close to water. The hen builds elaborately hid nests underneath mats of vegetation, which she enters by way of tunnels within the grass. Males defend the feminine and the nest by means of many of the incubation interval. After breeding, cinnamon teal geese collect in flocks to molt previous to migration.

Cinnamon teal are short- to mid-range migrants and, like bluewing teal, they start their fall flight in August and September. Whereas a only a few have turned up in South America, most are usually not long-distance migrators. In the US, the Nice Salt Lake of Utah is a crucial cinnamon teal stopover and staging space.

Teal Geese: Conservation and Inhabitants Standing

Bluewing teal are amongst our most quite a few geese, and greenwinged teal populations are robust. There may be some trigger for concern about cinnamon teal, nonetheless. Their populations have by no means been as excessive as the opposite two teal, and they’re shedding habitat resulting from human exercise and air pollution. Furthermore, the Nice Salt Lake, an vital migratory stopover for the cinnamon teal duck, is struggling the results of extreme drought. Lastly, cinnamon- and bluewing teal compete for a similar habitat, with the extra aggressive bluewings typically prevailing. Geese Limitless is the nation’s foremost conservation group for teal and different duck species.

Trying to find Teal Geese

Harvested bluewings next to a shotgun.
A pair of bluewing hens, taken by the creator on an early-season hunt. Phil Bourjaily

Teal geese, particularly bluewing and greenwing teal, make up an vital a part of most waterfowl hunters’ yearly baggage. The birds are prized each as tablefare and as difficult geese to hit on the wing. The bluewing’s early fall migration takes place earlier than many duck searching seasons open, so many states take pleasure in early September teal-only seasons. The overwhelming majority of teal geese taken in these seasons are bluewings, though a number of greenwings will combine in. Most greenwinged teal migrate later, and these hardy little geese are generally nonetheless current within the late season.

Associated: How you can Hunt the Greenwing Teal Migration

In the course of the early September teal season, virtually any slight chilly entrance or a full moon can set off a migration day that may make for a memorable hunt. As soon as they arrive, teal will keep for few days earlier than resuming their journey south. Focusing on teal geese first means discovering their most well-liked habitat. Since teal feed primarily by skimming, this virtually all the time means shallow water, generally as shallow as scarcely-covered mudflats. Teal are usually not the wariest of geese, and whereas hiding is all the time vital, it’s not a important a part of a teal hunt. Teal will decoy readily to virtually any sort of duck decoys, and they’re particularly drawn to spinning-wing decoys. Though you should purchase particular teal calls and they’re generally efficient, being in the appropriate place with a decoy unfold is the actual secret to teal hunt.

Teal geese are early fliers, and plenty of early-season teal hunts happen in a flurry of exercise very first thing within the morning. A flight can finish in 30 or 40 minutes. Later within the fall, greenwing teal will fly early however often hold shifting later into the morning.

As a result of teal are small geese and often shot at shut vary over decoys, open-choked shotguns and smaller shot like measurement 4 or 6 metal take advantage of sense. In contrast to huge geese that circle and provide you with loads of warning, teal typically drop right into a decoy unfold unexpectedly, so being prepared is all the time vital when searching these tiny, tasty geese.

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