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Green-winged Teal – Advanced Identification

Still Looking…

Martin Garner, Ian Lewington and James Lees

Occurring in small numbers each year  the North American Green-winged Teal ‘carolinensis’  has only ever been identified in Britain in male plumages. Female are surely overlooked. Here’s a fresh look at some of the characteristics with downloadable material and some potential new features from Slimbridge. Plus a bunch of stuff about female Baikal Teals too!

GWTeal Baikal teal Ian Lewington

female Baikal Teal, Eurasian Teal crecca and Green-winged Teal carolinensis. Plate by Ian Lewington

Introduction 

“The Green-winged and Baikal Teal are an intriguing brace of dabbling ducks. While the female Green-winged Teal teeters at the edge of the realm ‘unidentifiable’, the Baikal Teal teeters on the brink of ‘unacceptable’. Being a natural optimist I want to haul both of them back from the edge. Some female Green-winged Teals can be identified as well as eclipse drakes.  A number of Baikal Teal in the Western Palearctic have been genuine vagrants and what a ‘beautifully formed’ (Latin: formasa) vagrant duck the males are!

For those how want to take a longer look at wildfowl in the hunt for these things, a female anas sp. at Seaforth, Merseyside in May 2006 provided a salutary lesson that there is much to be discovered. Quickly heralded as a female Baikal Teal, it soon became evident that while the face pattern seemed exceptional, the overall structure and plumage were closer to Teal (indeed Green-winged Teal). While the identification of this particular bird may never be unequivocal, it provided the necessary perspective that female Teals, though rarely studied, may contain much-sought vagrants and that knowing speculum patterns is a key to correct identification.”

Above is the intro to the chapter on Green-winged and Baikal Teal identification from the book, ‘Frontiers in Birding’. You can download the full chapter here:

PDF_logo Green-winged and Baikal Teal from Frontiers in Birding (2008)

adult female Green-winged Teal (above) and Eurasian Teal (below)captive adult female Green-winged Teal, Slimbridge WWT, James Lees

Since then we have been exploring more potential characters for identifying female Green-winged Teal. Compare features visible in the photos. This is not a large sample size- just two birds. However keeps us looking into more characters 🙂

adult female Green-winged Teal (above) and Eurasian Teal (below)

adult female Green-winged Teal (above) and Eurasian Teal (below)

Undertail region: Eurasian Teal (left) with Green-winged Teal (right)

Undertail region: Eurasian Teal (left) with Green-winged Teal (right)

Head patterns: Green-winged Teal (left) with Eurasian Teal (right)

Head patterns: Green-winged Teal (left) with Eurasian Teal (right)

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