Make the ID: American Wigeon vs Green-Winged Teal

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:

Green-winged Teal

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.

American Wigeon

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