December 9, 2021
On the penultimate day of Duck Week here at #BenInNature, please enjoy this green-winged teal (Anas carolinensis)!
The green-winged teal is the smallest of our North American dabbling ducks, meaning ducks that tend to feed on the surface of the water by tipping forward in shallow water to graze on aquatic plants and insects. Diving ducks, on the other hand, dive underwater and propel themselves with their large feet.
These beautiful ducks are fairly common, but they're most often spotted in Canadian wetlands, which are their preferred nesting habitat. They migrate south in the fall and winter which is when you'll spot them here in Virginia.
More than any other duck, green-winged teal prefer to forage for food on mud flats, but they'll also feed in shallow marshes or temporarily flooded fields. They'll consume a variety of plants and seeds, but they also eat insects, mollusks, and crustaceans.
As you can see in the photo, it's easy to identify the green-winged teal based on its brown head and the green patch leading back from the eye (which reminds me a bit of the makeup worn by the late Divine). Both males and females also have deep-green wing patches that are most visible in flight. While it would make more sense to call this the green-headed teal, ornithologists have a strange tendency to name birds after their least-conspicuous feature.
In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends. This series of posts is made possible thanks to the support of VMNH Corporate Partner Carter Bank & Trust (www.cbtcares.com).
NATURE PHOTO IDENTIFICATIONS
If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!