Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Green-winged Teal

Erika and I took this photo of a Green-winged Teal at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge on 30 March 2019. The teal is seining the marsh mud for tiny animals like nematodes, ostracods or copepods that live along the mud surface. The edges of Green-winged teal bills have fine combs to strain their prey from the water. 

But seining is not the only way that Green-winged Teal capture prey. Overall this species enjoys an opportunistic diet, which includes “seeds of sedges, grasses, and aquatic vegetation; aquatic insects and larvae, molluscs, and crustaceans.” Although they generally eat smaller prey than other ducks, they are not adverse to foraging in winter fields of corn, rice, or other crops (Johnson 1995).

The blue sides of this teal’s head are a bit strange—they should be green. Birders, however, know to be weary of iridescent duck plumage, which notoriously reflects different colors depending on the sun’s position.

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