Sunday, May 9, 2010
Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in Northwest Missouri is a great place to see all forms of water fowl. A recent visit to the refuge proved fruitful as the blue-winged teal had returned and were pairing up in various areas of the wetland. The males will reach lengths up to 15 inches with the females being smaller. Their breeding plumage is unmistakable, the males possess a beautiful white "crescent" in front of their eyes. When in flight they have light blue patches on their forewings. After mating, the female will lay her eggs in a nest made of grasses lined with downy feathers, this nest will be located very close to the shoreline. She may lay up to 15 eggs. They will hatch in about 25 days and be ready to fledge in about 45 days. They are found throughout most of the United States during the summer months. They will overwinter in warmer areas such as the southern United States and Central America and South America.
While feeding they typically do not dive, instead they will skim the surface of the water for vegetation such as duckweed. They will also feed on insects and other aquatic plants. Their numbers have been steadily increasing over the past several years, especially in Eastern North America. This increase in numbers seems to be in large part in an increase in favorable habitat, like wetlands, ponds, and other shallow marshy areas.