Posts Tagged: Green-winged Teal

Look Alikes

Tundra Swan and Cygnet at the Horicon Marsh

Tundra Swan and Cygnet

The patch of yellow at the base of the bill is a helpful field mark to identity the Tundra Swan.  Tundra Swans nest in the arctic and stop at the Horicon Marsh during migration.  They are North America’s most numerous swan species.  Trumpeter Swans, on  the other hand, nest at the Horicon Marsh during the summer.  They lack the yellow patch at the base of the bill.

Canvasback at the Horicon Marsh


The slope of the head helps to distinguish the Canvasback from the commonly found Redhead. Male Canvasbacks have red eyes and black beaks.  Male Redheads have a rounded head, yellow eyes, and a gray beak with a black tip.  According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “The species name of the Canvasback, Aythya valisineria, comes from Vallisneria americana, or wild celery, whose winter buds and rhizomes are its preferred food during the nonbreeding period.”

Green-winged Teal at the Horicon Marsh

Green-winged Teal

The Green-winged Teal is not likely to be confused with another species of duck.  They are one of the tiniest ducks.  The striking green and chestnut color on the head and neck of the male sets it apart.  They are typically found at the Horicon Marsh during the summer and during migration.

There were Hooded Mergansers, Northern Pintails, Northern Shovelers, Ruddy Ducks, and a host of other waterfowl swimming in the water along Highway 49 today.  It is a great time to visit the Horicon Marsh and see the variety of species migrating.


Familiarity and Change

Horicon Marsh

“Though the walk into the lake may be familiar,

It is never the same.” 

Norbert Blei, a Door County author, penned this line in his book, Meditations on a Small Lake.  He could have been writing about the Horicon Marsh.  The clouds have changed from patterned puffs to watercolor wisps as autumn is fading into winter.  The auto tour and other areas are closed unless we are wearing blaze orange due to deer hunting season.

Green-winged Teal at the Horicon Marsh

Green-winged Teal

Green-winged Teal rest before heading further south.  Some will spend their winter in the Caribbean, which sounds like a great idea.

Ruddy Duck at the Horicon Marsh

Female Ruddy Duck

This female Ruddy Duck was either camera shy or very hungry.  She frequently dove beneath the surface of the water.  It was a challenge to find her when she resurfaced.  Ruddy Ducks tend to migrate east or west to the coasts.

Sandhill Cranes at the Horicon Marsh

Adult and Juvenile Sandhill Cranes

Large flocks of Sandhill Cranes found tasty treats in fields where farmers recently harvested their corn.  Juvenile Sandhill Cranes lack the red patch on their head.  They have small brown patches on their sides.  Iron stained feathers are only present on the adults.

Sandhill Cranes at the Horicon Marsh

Sandhill Cranes

It was a peaceful evening and I would have stayed out longer but it was getting too dark to shoot (with my camera).  There is comfort in the familiarity and excitement in seeing nature change.

Fall Migration

Autumn at the Horicon Marsh

I took this photo on Highway Z on my drive to the Horicon Marsh.  Autumn is so beautiful in Wisconsin.

Trumpeter Swans at the Horicon Marsh

The Trumpeter Swans are growing and continuing to enjoy swimming in an area near the auto tour.

Autumn at the Horicon Marsh

Some of the trees are at their peak and putting on a spectacular show.

Green-winged Teal at the Horicon Marsh

This Green-winged Teal looks a bit rough due to molting.  The Green-winged Teal is the smallest dabbling duck in North America.

Green-winged Teal at the Horicon Marsh

They also enjoy Ballet.

Female Green-winged Teal at the Horicon Marsh

This is the pretty female Green-winged Teal.

Green-winged Teal and Canada Goose at the Horicon Marsh

I love the interaction between the Green-winged Teal and the Canada Goose.

Dowitchers at the Horicon Marsh

I believe these are Adult nonbreeding Dowitchers.  The tiger striping on their tales is an identifying feature.  It is amazing that standing on one foot is restful!

Female Northern Pintail at the Horicon Marsh

This female Northern Pintail enjoys chatting and swimming.

Lesser Yellowlegs at the Horicon Marsh

Swimming only briefly, the Lesser Yellowlegs took off shortly after I arrived.

Dunlin at the Horicon Marsh

Autumn is a great time to view birds that are migrating through the Horicon Marsh.  What do you think this one is?

Dunlin at the Horicon Marsh

Here is another view.  I would love to hear what you think in the comments section.

Comment:  Jerry asked a great question in the comments area.  What is a dabbling duck?  Dabblers feed on the surface of the water by opening their beaks to filter out tiny organisms.  They may also tip up, leaving their legs and tails in the air.  They don’t like to submerge their whole body.  These include Canada Geese, Trumpeter Swans, and Wood Ducks.  Divers, on the other hand, dive underwater to feed.  These include Pied-billed Grebes and Ruddy Ducks.