Wisconsin: Habitat is Key for Blue-winged Teal Populations

November's Bird of the Month is the Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors).
November’s Bird of the Month is the Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors).
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Wisconsin-(Ammoland.com)- November’s Bird of the Month is the Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors). Because it requires a combination of wetland and grassland habitats for breeding, this duck species is particularly vulnerable to habitat loss. Additionally, harvest rates are poorly known because this species winters as far south as Central and South America, where band reporting rates of harvested birds are unknown but likely very low. Fortunately, conservation of both wetland and grassland habitat on public and private lands benefits this species, since populations can increase with appropriate habitat conditions.

The Conservation Reserve Program, which pays farmers to convert row crops to grassland, is also instrumental in improving habitat for teal and other grassland birds. Currently, teal benefit from over 240,000 acres of CRP-enrolled land in Wisconsin. Conservation of wintering habitat in collaboration with Mexico and Central and South American countries is also necessary for sustaining blue-winged teal populations.

  • The blue-winged teal is one of the first duck species to begin migrating in the fall, and by November almost all individuals have reached their wintering grounds.
  • Blue-winged teal populations can be difficult to manage within a state because they often shift their breeding range around the continent based on wetland habitat conditions.
  • Estimating breeding blue-winged teal populations can be challenging because as late spring migrants they can be confused with locally breeding birds.
  • Blue-winged teal was the most abundant breeding duck species in Wisconsin and the Great Lakes region as recently as the 1980s.