The first to arrive and last to leave, the Green-winged Teal spends a very short period wintering in southern states including North Carolina, so spotting one may require some planning. The relatively small duck is about 12” to 16” with dark features. Males have a brown head with distinctive green triangles, vertical white stripes on their flanks and gray bodies. The females are also brown, but lack the markings their male counterparts possess.
In North Carolina, Teals can be found in shallow marshes and ponds along the coastal plain in habitats that are slowly being degraded.
Researchers have found the Green-winged Teal breeds as far north as Alaska, Canada and the northern United States. During the winter, they fly down to the coasts of the southern United States and South America. During this long migration, they travel in total unison, creating a spectacular visual as they execute sharp turns and maneuvers.
Thanks to conservation efforts, their populations bounced back from about 722,000 birds in 1962 to 3.4 million in 2009. They are now listed as a species of least concern.
The following IBAs are important to the success of Green-winged Teal populations and the conservation efforts in place to protect them.
- Alligator River Lowlands
- Currituck Marshes-Pine Island
- Lake Mattamuskeet-Swanquarter
- Mackey Island
- Pungo-Pocosin Lakes