Blue-winged teal

Spatula discors

At the Zoo

South American Tropical Rainforest and Aviary

Fascinating Facts

  • These small ducks are long distance fliers! They spend their summers in North America, from southern Alaska, across Canada to the East Coast. In the fall, they migrate down to South America, sometimes as far south as northern Chile and Argentina! They are one of the first to migrate in the fall and one of the last to return in the spring.
  • The blue-winged teal rarely upends like other ducks, instead it feeds mostly by dabbing on the surface and dipping its head in shallow waters.

Physical Characteristics

When breeding, males have brown bodies with a slate-blue head and a white crescent behind the bill. Females are a plainer, patterned brown. When in flight, a powder blue patch is noticeable.


Teals live in marshes, lakes, and swamps; during winter, they live near salt water and coastal mangroves.

Blue-winged teals eat seeds and roots of aquatic plants along with invertebrates such as insects and crustaceans.

Social Behavior

Blue-winged teals have many display motions, including pumping the head up and down and dipping the head under water quickly. Pairs usually break up during incubation and form new pair bond with different individuals during the winter or spring.

Status In The Wild

Not yet assessed by IUCN

Animals & Exhibits