Scientific name: Anas crecca
Status: Resident breeding species and winter visitor
Breeding birds: 1,600-2,800 pairs
Wintering birds: 220,000
Conservation status: Green
Length: 34 – 38 cm
Wingspan: 58 – 65 cm
Weight: 200 – 450 g
Male teals in breeding plumage have grey and white upperparts and flanks with a white stripe along the sides of the upperparts. Their wings are buff coloured with metallic green secondaries with white tips. Their tails are black with a yellow tinge on each side.
Male teals’ breasts are pale yellow with dark brown mottling. The side of the breasts vermiculated with grey and the middle of the belly is white.
Their heads are rust brown with a broad green band around the eye extending to the nape. They have a narrow cream coloured line below their eyes as well as one on the front of their heads. Their bills are dark grey, eyes are brown and legs and feet are olive or blue-grey.
Female teals have brown mottled plumage with a dark back and rump. Their breasts, bellies and underparts are white with dark mottling. The bright green feathers on the wings are visible. Their bills are grey with a pink area at the base.
Juvenile teals and males out of breeding season resemble females although juveniles have a spotted belly.
Teals breed in single pairs or loose groups. They build their nests in thick vegetation or grass so it is well-concealed. The female makes a shallow hole in the ground and builds a bowl-shaped nest with grass, twigs and leaves and lines it with feathers.
Teals lay 10-12 cream coloured eggs and incubates them alone for 21-23 days. Chicks have dark brown down when they hatch and are precocial. They move to the water soon after hatching and fledge at 25-35 days.
Teals eat aquatic plants, seeds and grains as well as small aquatic animals such as insects, crustacean, molluscs and fish eggs.
Where to see them
Teals are visible all year round but in the winter are joined by continental birds so are easier to spot. They can be round on wetlands on coasts and inland particularly on the Somerset Levels and Mersey estuary.
Did you know?
There is some confusion over whether the American green-winged teal is the same or a separate species from the Eurasian teal.