Saturday, 6 December 2008

Teals part 1 (Photo special)

The word “teal” has two meanings; to some it is just a blue-green colour like a dark turquoise; to others it is a type of small duck. In Britain, that small duck is specifically the common teal (Anas crecca). In North America, there are other species, particularly the green-winged teal (A. carolinensis) that looks a lot like the common teal, the blue-winged teal (A. discors), and the cinnamon teal (A. cyanoptera). Elsewhere in the world, there are even more species of Anas that are known as teals, and even members of other duck genera. Today I will showcase 6 teals, and this will be followed by a further 5. Eleven ducks in one post will be a bit too much, even for anatophiles like myself.


Male and female common teals
Anas crecca Linnaeus, 1758
Anatidae; Anseriformes; Aves; Chordata
London Wetland Centre
January 2008

The common teal is a resident of Britain, but becomes more numerous in winter when migrants come in from cooler areas. They are my favourite of the winter ducks, especially due to their dinky size and the male’s colourful plumage, consisting of a brown and teal head, grey body and a buffy rump with a black border.


Male Baikal teal
Anas formosa Georgi, 1775
Anatidae; Anseriformes; Aves; Chordata
London Wetland Centre
October 2008

Baikal teals are an Asian species that is threatened with extinction. It looks a lot like a common teal, but has buff on the head as well as brown and teal.


Male falcated teal
Anas falcata Georgi, 1775
Anatidae; Anseriformes; Aves; Chordata
London Wetland Centre
October 2008

The falcated teal is another Asian species, but is larger than other teals, so is sometimes known as the falcated duck (there’s no real difference, just that smaller ducks are called teals). Its similarity to both the common and Baikal teals suggests it should be called a teal. “Falcated” means “sickle-shaped”, and this probably describes some of the feathers on the male’s sides quite well.


Speckled teal
Anas flavirostris Vieillot, 1816
Anatidae; Anseriformes; Aves; Chordata
London Wetland Centre
October 2008

Male and female speckled teals, with their yellow and black bills and neat brown-spotted plumage, do not differ. They are found in South America.


Puna teal
Anas puna Tschudi, 1844
Anatidae; Anseriformes; Aves; Chordata
London Wetland Centre
October 2008

The South American puna teal gets its name from the Andean region where it comes from, with an alpine cold climate, also inhabited by the puna flamingo (Phoenicoparrus jamesi) amongst other unique species. They have a distinctive bright blue bill along with black cap and white cheeks. The closely-related silver teal (Anas versicolor) lacks the blue bill but is otherwise very similar, and is even sometimes regarded as conspecific.


Laysan teal
Anas laysanensis Rothschild, 1892
Anatidae; Anseriformes; Aves; Chordata
London Wetland Centre
October 2008

You might think the Laysan teal looks a lot like a female mallard, and you’d not be wrong to think that, as it is often regarded as a subspecies of that cosmopolitan species. The Laysan teal is native to Hawaii and the nearby Laysan Island and is incredibly rare, Critically Endangered even. Drakes do not have the distinctive green head, white collar and chestnut chest of mallards; instead both males and females have a white patch around the eye.

In the next post, Madagascar, chestnut, brown, ringed and marbled teals! Stay tuned!

1 comment:

Raptor Lewis said...

I love ducks! Awesome post!