The Teal or Eurasian Teal is the smallest extant dabbling duck at 20-30 cm (13-17 in) length and with an average weight of 340 g in drake (males) and 320 g in hens (females). The wings yield a wingspan of 53-59 cm (21-23 in). Breeding males appear grey, with a dark head, a yellowish behind, and a white stripe running along the flanks. Their head and upper neck is chestnut, with a wide and iridescent dark green patch. The center of the belly is white. Non-breeding drakes look more like the hen. It is more uniform in colour, with a dark head. The hen is yellowish-brown, darker on wings and back. It has a dark greyish-brown upper head, hindneck, eyestripe and feather pattern.
Habitat and Distribution
It breeds in northern Eurasia and mostly wintering south of the range. In the United Kingdom and Ireland a small summer population breeds, but far greater numbers of Siberian birds arrive in winter. In the Caucasus region, western Asia Minor, along the northern shores of the Black Sea, and even on the south coast of Iceland and on the Vestmannaeyjar, it is seen all year. In winter, there are high densities around the Mediterranean. The bird is commonly found in sheltered wetlands.
It feeds by dabbling, upending or grazing; it may submerge its head and on occasion even dive to reach food. In the breeding season it eats mainly aquatic invertebrates. In winter, it eats seeds of aquatic plants and grasses, also some grains.
It nests on the ground, near water and under cover. Breeding starts not until May in the most northernly locations. The nest is a deep hollow lined with dry leaves and down feathers, built in dense vegetation near water. After the females have started laying, the males leave them and move away for shorter or longer distances, assembling in flocks on particular lakes where they moult into eclipse plumage.The clutch may consist of 5-16 eggs. These are incubated for 21-23 days.
Calls and Songs
This is a noisy species. The male whistles cryc or creelycc, not loud but very clear and far-carrying. The female has a feeble keh or neeh quack.