Confused teal


The Green-winged Teal is a rather small dabbler that is neither rare nor common around here. It spends its winters to our south and its summers to our north. Twice a year it courses through here as it goes one way or the other. 

One male has been hanging out with twenty or thirty mallards for the last couple of days. The mallards will stay, and the teal will head north. But, it typically expects to arrive at the breeding grounds with a mate, and this seems to be much on its mind, for it did not bring a mate when it arrived here. So, it has chosen to keep close company with a female mallard.

Now although the female Mallard is big and female Green-winged Teal is small, their plumage is much the same, so it may be easy to confuse the one with the other. In addition to following the female mallard, he also has regularly attacked male mallards, his presumed rivals, and has done courtship displays by frequently rearing up in the Lake and flapping.

The male Green-winged Teal has a dark beak, and a chestnut-coloured head with a green eye patch.

The teal followed the female mallard wherever she went on water or…

…on land. She seemed to tolerate this, but largely ignored the activity. 

The teal regularly chased any male mallard he thought had eyes for her. They just got out of his way. Photo by Cynthia Fraser.

When in the Lake, the male Green-winged Teal would frequently do a courtship display by rearing up out the water and flapping its wings. This provided a good chance to see the green feathers on its wings.

It is likely that he will migrate and she will stay put. However, hybrid animals have been reported.


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8 Responses to Confused teal

  1. Paul P. says:

    Great photos. Wonder who this GW Teal will end up with?

  2. Foghorn Leghorn says:

    Isn’t it an axiom in sex that size matters? This may be a confused Green-wing Teal in your book but in Looney Tunes land, this is a swashbuckling young chicken hawk. Every gallant male in Occidental Mythology according to Joseph Campbell has to wrest himself from the Mother or Female for a while. Hybrids, “singing schools of boys,” or even impotence may result.

  3. Annette says:

    The green color is so stunning.

  4. Bee says:

    Delusions of Grandeur

  5. Denyse says:

    Stunning photos Allistair.

  6. Stephen Wells says:

    Great photos/story! I find it interesting how tolerant the female mallard is and how the larger male mallards just acquiesce to his charges. Nature is always fascinating! Thanks for bringing its wonders to our inbox!

    • Alistair says:

      Stephen, the teal continues to hang around for the fourth day. The male mallards probably avoid conflict not feeling that to fight is worth the potential injury. The female mallard can probably do nothing one way or the other.

  7. Colleen Scissons says:

    Great Photos Cynthia! I especially enjoyed looking at the Teal’s plumage. Thanks so much!

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