Blue-winged Teal in the Meadow

The neighboring Berkeley Meadow (Sylvia McLaughlin Eastshore State Park) continues to attract waterfowl with its wide and shallow seasonal wetlands.  At midday today a rock in a rain-flooded plain served as podium for a Blue-winged Teal female.  She seemed fast asleep, not fifteen yards from the fenced trail, and took no fright from my soft approach. After I studied her for a few minutes, she awoke and began preening, revealing in the process the bright tail feathers and the blue sidebars that give the species its common name.  (The Latin name is anas discors (“odd swan”.)  Soon her male partner joined her for a bit of preening of his own, and then they took off ever so leisurely into the bushes at the border.  These birds are famous long-distance flyers.  They breed and nest in northern climes in summer, and are among the first to head south in fall. They’ve been spotted as far south as Cuba, Venezuela, and Colombia in winter time.  Read more about them on the Cornell Lab bird website or the Audubon Society website, which has the best pictures.  Most pictures of these birds show the breeding male with a bold white stripe at the base of the beak. The birds I saw today are on vacation and their facial plumage lacks the pizzazz of the mating season.  

Female Blue-winged Teal in the Berkeley Meadow
Female Blue-winged Teal preening
Male Blue-winged Teal in the background

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