Make the ID: American Wigeon vs Green Winged Teal
Winter waterfowl makes for great birding, but some of the more common ducks can be difficult to tell apart. American Wigeons and Green-winged Teals can be a bit confusing – especially in dull light. But there are a few specific markings that can make the ID easy:
Look at the head: Both birds have an iridescent green streak over and behind their eyes. This is often the first noticeable color when there is good light. But breeding male wigeons have a distinctive white cap that goes to their beak; teal have a deep cinnamon head and neck with no cap.
Look at the body: Both birds have mottled feathers, but wigeons are larger than teals. Also, teals have a vertical white stripe on the side just below the neck which the wigeon lacks. And, while Green-winged Teals have their namesake green feathers in their wings, when they are not flying, this is often not visible.
Look at the beak: Both male and female wigeons have a pale blue beak, while teal have a black one. If all else fails, this can be a determining ID marker.
Photo Credits: Deborah Rivel