• Skip to Content
  • Skip to Main Navigation
  • Skip to Local Navigation
  • Skip to Search
  • Skip to Sitemap
  • Skip to Footer

Green-winged Teal


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The little Green-winged Teal is the smallest dabbling duck in North America. The natty male has a cinnamon-colored head with a gleaming green crescent that extends from the eye to the back of the head. In flight, both sexes flash deep-green wing patches (specula). Look for them on shallow ponds and in flooded fields, and listen for the male’s decidedly non-ducklike whistle. These common ducks breed along northern rivers; wintering flocks can number as many as 50,000.


Males give a clear whistling call as part of several courtship displays, sometimes adding a rapid chitter. Green-winged Teal females give a repeated, shrill quack on the wintering grounds, during courtship, and to distract potential predators when brooding. They also give 5–15 fast, persistent quacks, about 2 per second, when searching for nest sites, perhaps to lure potential predators out and assess a site’s safety. A series of 4–7 quacks of decreasing volume is given during courtship, as well as a harsh, rattling call made when inciting a male during pair formation.

Other Sounds

The Green-winged Teal’s wings make a whistling sound in flight.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Find This Bird

A good time to look for Green-winged Teal across most of the continent is during spring and fall migration, when the birds land in shallow wetlands, sometimes foraging in little more than puddles in flooded agricultural fields. They occur with other species of dabbling ducks, but they’ll stand out if you pay attention to their size and shape. Even the fairly uniform brown females are distinctive by silhouette: small and compact, sitting high in the water, with a fairly small bill. A small brown duck near a group of larger dabblers is probably not a young Mallard—and it could be a female Green-winged Teal. Look for the buffy yellow stripe along the tail for extra confirmation.

You Might Also Like

Simple Steps for Identifying Confusing Brown Ducks—Females and Otherwise, All About Birds blog, November 21, 2014.

What to Watch For: Duck Courtship [video], All About Birds blog, January 20, 2015.

Confusing Domestic Ducks (and hybrids).



Or Browse Bird Guide by Family, Name or Shape
bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

The Cornell Lab will send you updates about birds, birding, and opportunities to help bird conservation. You can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell or give your email address to others.