Large gray-blue patch on the wing; green speculum, (the group of feathers located on the inner back portion of the wing). The male has a slate-blue head with a large white crescent, a mottled-brown chest and sides, and a white patch in front of the black tail. The female is mottled brown overall. 38-40 cm (15-16 in) in length. When males are not in breeding plumage, they appear similar to the females.
The breeding season begins in early May. Nesting habitat is usually a small body of water, including small ponds, lakes, prairie pot-holes, and marshes. The nest is usually placed on the ground and hidden by vegetation. The female builds the nest of grass and other plant material. She lays 6-15 (usually 8-11) eggs that she incubates for approximately 24 days. The young are precocial and are cared for by the female. They leave the nest shortly after hatching and usually gain independence about 35-44 days after hatching.
The Blue-winged Teal uses a variety of lakes, ponds, and marshes throughout the year. The main foods of this species include seeds, other plants materials, aquatic insects, and invertebrates. It gathers food by taking food floating on the water's surface or near the surface or by "up-ending," tipping its tail end up while its head and upper body go beneath the surface to take food from aquatic vegetation. This species is migratory.
The Blue-winged Teal occurs throughout most of inland United States during the breeding season. The species winters in most coastal areas of the United States, in California on the west coast, and from Virginia south on the eastern coast. Some individuals winter as far south as central South America. In Georgia the Blue-winged Teal is found mostly in the coastal areas and in extreme southern portions of the state.
This species is fairly common within its range and is not listed as needing any special conservation protection.
The most similar species is the Cinnamon Teal. Females of the Blue-winged Teal and Cinnamon Teal are indistinguishable. In the breeding plumage, the male Blue-winged Teal is easily identified by the white crescent on its face, but during the rest of the year the male is also very difficult to distinguish from the Cinnamon Teal.