A flight of fast-flying Green-Winged Teal darted into Great Cove yesterday. They’re our smallest dabbling ducks, usually no more than 15 inches in length.
The spiffy green-masked males, shown here, have a strange call that sounds like a frog – a high-pitched “dreep”; the all-brown females have a more duck-like sharp “quack.” Both sexes are relatively easy to spot by their silhouettes: they’re compact runts with short bills and they sit high on the water.
What their bills lack in size, they make up for in design: compared to other dabblers, Green-Wings have more combing structures (“lamellae”) around the insides of their mandibles to trap small food – on each of their upper and lower mandibles, GWTs have about 120-130 lamellae, compared to about 50-70 for other dabblers. GWTs, apparently, are gourmets that feast on the smallest delicacies. (Brooklin, Maine)