(noun) A type of small freshwater dabbling duck.
(Rhymes with heel, keel and kneel)
Teal are dabbling ducks that are found primarily in shallow freshwater areas, which may include marshes, ponds, rivers, swamps, flooded agricultural fields and similar riparian areas with suitable vegetation and shelter. Some variety of teal are found on every continent except Antarctica.
These are smaller ducks and are characterized by short necks and short tails. They are dimorphic birds, and males have brightly marked, distinctive plumage that often includes unusual color swathes or patches on the head, wings or face. In the case of wing coloration, the unexpected shades may be difficult to see when the bird's wings are folded, but can be very obvious in flight. Females are more camouflaged with muted, earth tone colors, which serves as protection while they are nesting.
Teal typically feed on the surface of the water, often wiggling their flat bills along as they swim slowly in order to catch aquatic insects. Unlike other dabbling ducks, teal prefer to feed at the surface instead of tipping up to forage beneath the water. Generally herbivorous, teal eat primarily aquatic vegetation, seeds and grain, though they may eat some insects as well.
These can be gregarious ducks and often join mixed flocks with multiple teal species and other dabbling ducks such as mallards, widgeons and northern shovelers, particularly in winter.
In flight, these birds often stay in a tight group and may wheel and change direction in unison.
Teal as Game Birds
Teal are regularly hunted, and waterfowl hunting can be an important part of wildlife population management programs. By hunting teal, overpopulation problems are minimized, and the stronger, smarter, more agile ducks survive to reproduce.
The exact length of the hunting season, how many teal an individual hunter may harvest and where the birds may be legally hunted will vary depending on the strength of local teal populations.
All teal are found in the scientific genus Anas and belong to the family Anatidae with other ducks, geese and swans. There are more than 20 species of teal throughout the world, though it is possible that similar dabbling duck species may be reclassified or different teal could be split or lumped into additional species in the future, therefore increasing the number of unique teal species. In many areas where only one teal species predominates, the birds may simply be referred to as teal rather than by their full names, though that can be confusing to birders who have more specific listing preferences.
Different teal ducks include...
- Andaman Teal (Anas albogularis)
- Andean Teal (Anas andium)
- Auckland Teal (Anas aucklandica)
- Baikal Teal (Sibirionetta formosa)
- Blue-Winged Teal (Spatula discors)
- Brazilian Teal (Amazonetta brasiliensis)
- Brown Teal (Anas chlorotis)
- Campbell Teal (Anas nesiotis)
- Cape Teal (Anas capensis)
- Chestnut Teal (Anas castanea)
- Cinnamon Teal (Spatula cyanoptera)
- Common Teal (Anas crecca)
- Grey Teal (Anas gracilis)
- Hottentot Teal (Spatula hottentota)
- Madagascar Teal (Anas bernieri)
- Marbled Teal (Marmaronetta angustirostris)
- Puna Teal (Spatula puna)
- Red-Billed Teal (Anas erythrorhyncha)
- Ringed Teal (Callonetta leucophrys)
- Salvadori's Teal (Salvadorina waigiuensis)
- Silver Teal (Spatula versicolor)
- Sunda Teal (Anas gibberifrons)
- Yellow-billed Teal (Anas flavirostris)
Note - Please see the complete A-Z duck species list for additional dabbling ducks, as well as any vulnerable, threatened or endangered designations for teal.
Also Known As:
Photo – Cinnamon Teal © Mike Baird, flickr.bairdphotos.com