Bird Database

Blue-winged Teal

(Spatula discors)

State of the Birds
At a Glance







Wetland loss, Climate change

Conservation Actions

Manage waterfowl harvest, Wetland protection

Blue-winged Teal

(Spatula discors)

While most of the waterfowl that occur in New Hampshire spend their winters in North America, the Blue-winged Teal we see in migration are just as likely to be going to or coming from South America, making it one of the farthest migrating ducks. The core of this species’ breeding range is the Great Plains, with smaller numbers nesting east across southern Canada and the northern tier of states. Breeding is rare in New Hampshire and hasn’t been reported since the 1980s, although the species was more common historically. One reason for this is that most of our wetlands are wooded to some degree, compared to wet meadows and Grasslands preferred by this species.

Instead, most of the Blue-winged Teal seen in the Granite State are migrants, and largely restricted to the river valleys and coastal area. Numbers are rarely large since the bulk of the species’ population breeds well to the west but be sure to scan flocks of other ducks in April and September for ones that are slightly smaller. In spring the males with their white facial crescent are distinctive, but late summer and early fall birds lack this feature and can easily be confused with female Mallards or the extremely similar Green-winged Teal, so brushing up on other field marks is important. The powder blue shoulder patches are only shared with the much different Northern Shoveler, making birds in flight far easier to identify.

Seasonal Abundance

Relative abundance based on eBird data. Numbers indicate likelihood of finding this species in suitable habitat at a given time of year, not actual numbers encountered.

Blue-winged Teal
Range Map

Information for the species profiles on this website was compiled from a combination of the sources listed below.

  • The Birds of New Hampshire. By Allan R. Keith and Robert B. Fox. 2013. Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological club No. 19.

  • Atlas of the Breeding Birds of New Hampshire. Carol R. Foss, ed. 1994. Arcadia Publishing Company and Audubon Society of New Hampshire

  • Birds of the World. Various authors and dates. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

  • Data from the Breeding Bird Survey

  • Data from the Christmas Bird Count