Teals are "dabblers" — they tip their heads under water and feed with their tails sticking straight up in the air.
Wide-Ranging Duck of the Boreal Forest
Believed to be one of the most abundant and wide-ranging ducks in North America, green-winged teals are also among the smallest and fastest, flying at more than 30 miles per hour. Very hardy ducks, more than half of their North American population breeds in the boreal forest of Alaska and Canada.
During migration, they tend to prefer shallow lakes and wetlands where they can feed on floating vegetation and small insects. Green-winged teals are found throughout Canada and in most American states. They prefer wooded lakes for breeding and are known to be especially fond of lakes, ponds and water flows created by beavers.
Because they are so abundant and their breeding grounds in the boreal forest have been largely inaccessible, green-winged teal populations are considered stable. Unfortunately, increasing development in the boreal forest regions of Alaska and Canada put green-winged teals at risk as changing land use patterns affect their historic breeding grounds.
Green-winged teals are part of the collection of ducks known as dabblers primarily because of their feeding patterns. Dabbling ducks are easy to recognize. Unlike diving ducks such as lesser scaups, they do not submerge completely when feeding. Instead, they tip their heads under water and feed with their tails sticking straight up in the air. Dabbling ducks are also capable of taking off directly from a lake or pond, while most diving ducks need a running start along the surface of the water.