Skip to main content

green-winged teal

green-winged teal (Anas crecca) [female]
Photo provided by SteveByland/

green-winged teal (Anas crecca) [male]
Photo provided by SteveByland/

Features and Behaviors

The green-winged teal is the smallest duck in North America. It averages 14 inches in length (tail tip to bill tip in preserved specimen). Both male and female have a dark-green wing patch. The male has a gray body. A green patch is present on his rust-colored head. A vertical white mark in front of the wing is visible when the bird is swimming or not in flight. The female is brown. Three of the toes are webbed to help with swimming. The bill is flattened and has a toothlike fringe on its edge.

The green-winged teal is a common migrant statewide, an uncommon winter resident in southern Illinois and a rare summer resident in northern Illinois. It flies in swift flocks. Spring migrants begin arriving in Illinois in February. Most green-winged teal nest in the northern United States and Canada. The nest is built in grasses at the edge of a lake. Composed of grasses and leaves, the nest is lined with down feathers. Six to 18, white, cream or green-brown eggs are laid by the female, and she alone incubates them for the 21- to 23-day incubation period. Fall migration into the state begins in mid-September. These ducks winter as far south as central Mexico. The green-winged teal feeds on mud flats, in vegetation on shallow ponds and pools and in shallow streams. It eats aquatic plants (nutgrass, millet, smartweed), insects and mollusks.

Illinois Range


​Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae

Illinois Status: common, native