The Eurasian Teal, also known as the common teal or Eurasian green-winged teal, is a small dabbling duck that is widespread and common. It is often referred to simply as the teal in many parts of its range due to being the only small dabbling duck in those areas. The bird is named after the blue-green colour teal.
The male Eurasian Teal in nuptial plumage appears grey from a distance, with a dark head, a yellowish behind, and a white stripe running along the flanks. The head and upper neck are chestnut, with a wide and iridescent dark green patch of half-moon- or teardrop-shape that starts immediately before the eye and arcs to the upper hindneck. The female is yellowish-brown, somewhat darker on the wings and back. It has a dark greyish-brown upper head, hindneck, eyestripe and feather pattern.
The Eurasian Teal is a common inhabitant of sheltered freshwater wetlands with some tall vegetation, such as taiga bogs or small lakes and ponds with extensive reedbeds. In winter, it is often seen in brackish waters and even in sheltered inlets and lagoons along the seashore.
The Eurasian Teal breeds across the Palearctic and mostly winters well south of its breeding range. However, in the milder climate of temperate Europe, the summer and winter ranges overlap. For example, in the United Kingdom and Ireland a small summer population breeds, but far greater numbers of Siberian birds arrive in winter.
This dabbling duck is highly gregarious outside of the breeding season and will form large flocks. In flight, the fast, twisting flocks resemble waders; despite its short legs, it is also rather nimble on the ground by ducks' standards.
Song & Calls:
The male Eurasian Teal whistles cryc or creelycc, not loud but very clear and far-carrying. The female has a feeble keh or neeh quack.
The pairs form in the winter quarters and arrive on the breeding grounds together, starting about March. The breeding starts some weeks thereafter, not until May in the most northern locations. The nest is a deep hollow lined with dry leaves and down feathers, built in dense vegetation near water.
Diet and Feeding:
In the breeding season, the Eurasian Teal eats mainly aquatic invertebrates, such as crustaceans, insects and their larvae, molluscs and worms. In winter, it shifts to a largely granivorous diet, feeding on seeds of aquatic plants and grasses, including sedges and grains.
The Eurasian Teal is classified as a species of Least Concern by the IUCN and BirdLife International. It appears to be holding its own currently, with its slow decline of maybe 1–2% annually in the 1990s – presumably mainly due to drainage and pollution of wetlands – not warranting action other than continuing to monitor the population and possibly providing better protection for habitat on the wintering grounds.