Hunts By Species: Blue-winged Teal

BLUE WINGED TEAL
Adult drake blue-winged teal in basic molt, September teal season. Scroll to bottom photo for breeding plumage.

Blue-winged Teal (Spatula discors, formerly Anas discors) are aptly named for the striking sky-blue wing patch visible to us avid hunters while hunting them during the early season, long before they’ve molted. Among the same genus, blue-winged teal, cinnamon teal, and northern shovelers (drakes and hens both) have similar wing plumage with a pale, cobalt blue upper wing patches and dark metallic green speculums separated by a white stripe of secondary coverts. In breeding plumage, blue-winged teal drakes have blue-gray heads with a white crescent moon pattern in front of the eyes. In hand, the gray may even show violet iridescence. Bill is dark gray. Legs are yellow with gray webbing. During the spring, breeding drake blue-winged teal legs are bright yellow. Another distinguishing characteristic is the white patch at the base of the black tail on the drake. Hens have a mottled brown/gray appearance, with adult females having heavy mottled bills. Hens quack, forming a choppy staccato of barks, and this species will respond well to calls.