Fweet! Time out – guests may hear something that resembles someone quickly blowing a whistle, but we’re not hosting any sports games in our Prairie Pothole aviary. The sound is actually a green-winged teal! These ducks make very high pitch, loud, quick whistling vocalizations.
Green-winged teals are North America’s smallest dabbling ducks. Dabbling ducks primarily eat from the surface of the water instead of diving for their food. Green-wing teals are also one of the fastest flying ducks in North America. On average, these ducks fly at around 50 miles per hour, but the fastest recorded flew around 60 miles per hour.
Males have greyish bodies with a narrow, vertical white stripe on their shoulder. Females are a bit more challenging to identify, but visitors should look for a narrow black stripe around their eye and smaller black stripe around their bills. Green-winged teals are named for the dark green coloration on their forewing, which can be seen on both sexes when their wings are extended.
Green-winged teals have some of the most elaborate mating “dances” among ducks. Males exhibit a broad range of vocalizations, head bobs and swimming patterns to attract a female. A male green-winged teal will propel himself up out of the water while vocalizing, then raise his wings and tail. Courtship occurs in large groups. At times, up to 35 males can be courting a single female.