BLUE-WINGED TEAL – (Anas discors)
The Blue-winged teal is a rather small dabbling duck at approximately 40 cm (16 in.) long. The drake has a dark blue-grey head with a large white vertical crescent in front of the eye. The body is beige mottled with black, and there is a white patch on the flanks near the black back. The bill is black and the legs are yellow. Females are mottled brown with a darker stripe across the eye. Both sexes have sky blue coverts and a green speculum.
The Latin name ‘anas’ means ‘duck’, and ‘discors’ relates to not being in harmony (think of ‘discord’), in reference to the facial color pattern of the drake.
This duck’s habitat includes grassy wetlands with tall vegetation in the Prairies, and coastal marshes that provide enough vegetation for cover. It feeds in shallow water and mud flats where most of its diet consists of plant material such as seeds, roots, leaves and stems. It is the most abundant duck in parts of the Prairies, in spite of having a very high mortality rate. It is also an early migrating bird, but hunters are still able to shoot several hundred thousands each season.
The blue-winged teal breeds on PEI as in most of Canada and USA, especially the prairie region, and is listed as common on the island. Its wintering range includes the southern part of the USA, southward to northern South America.