Ringed teal have strong, pointed claws on their feet
and so can readily perch in trees.
Length: 14-15 inches
Weight: 11-12 ounces
Coloration: Ringed Teal, typical of wood ducks,
have beautiful iridescent greenish plumage patterns,
especially on the wings. They may be distinguished by
a white patch in front of the green speculum. The
males have a finely speckled, pinkish breast and a
buff colored head with a black posterior border. This
border comes forward around the base of the neck to
form an incomplete ring. There is no eclipse plumage.
The legs are light pink, the slender bill bluish grey
and the eyes brown.
Fast and agile flyers, Ringed Teal enjoy perching in trees well off the ground. They are cavity nesters, so in captivity a raised nest box should be provided. Clutches consist of 5 to 12 whitish eggs and incubation is variously reported to take from 23 to 26 days. It is also stated that they may pair-bond, at least in captivity, with the male helping to care for the brood.
The male exhibits preening as part of his courtship
displays, which flashes the iridescent wing colors
toward the female to attract her attention. The male,
like all Anatids, has a copulatory organ and breeding
takes place on the water. Wood ducks are more
secretive than other puddle ducks and pair-bonds are
stronger, though not necessarily life-long.
Almost all ringed teal nests are in holes or other
cavities in trees. The nest is lined with down. The
incubation period is about 29 days. Both the male and
female take turns incubating the eggs and caring for
the young. Hatching is timed to the weather and food
availability, synchronizing with the best conditions.
Like all Anatids, wood duck chicks are precocial. They
are distinguished from other species by little,
pointed claws and long stiffened tail feathers.
The plumage of the ducklings needs to be water
repellant when they leave the nest. They get the
necessary oil as they rub against their mother's
abdominal plumage. They are called from the nest a day
or two after hatching.
The mother leaves the nest with a lot of calling.
The chicks peep anxiously and size up their plunge.
They bounce and tumble on hitting the ground, but are
seldom injured. Sometimes the nest over-hangs water
and the chicks do a splash-down. They eat on their
own, taking aquatic vegetation and insects as
demonstrated by the adults. They can fly some 50 to 55
days after hatching and follow the adults to the
winter feeding grounds. They join juvenile groups
during winter and participate in social displays,
during which time mates are chosen.
The ringed teal have fairly long toes and strong, sharp toe-nails, the better to sit un-duck-like in trees. The webbed feet support the bird on mud and floating vegetation and, of course, allow for easier swimming. Surface feeding ducks are differentiated from diving ducks, but that does not mean that surface ducks do not dive. They can and do, especially to escape predators. If they do dive, however, they seldom go below four feet.
Ringed Teal are "puddle ducks," surface feeding ducks also known as dabblers. Dabblers obtain their food by up-ending, immersing the head, neck and front of the body under water with the tail in the air. They maintain this position with foot action, grazing on submerged bottom plants. Dabbling is also known as
While swimming, they hold their tail horizontally so it does not touch the surface of the water. After dabbling, they flap their wings vigorously a few times to shake out any water that might have entered the wing pockets and other air spaces.
Like all wood ducks, the ringed teal's gait is peculiar, giving the effect of limping because they nod on only every other step.
Ringed teal live in South America, from southern Bolivia, Paraguay and southwestern Brazil to northeastern Argentina and Uruguay in wooded habitats.
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Ringed Teal Drake
Ringed teal Trio
Ringed Teal Pair