A drake Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors). Surely one of the most handsome of all ducks.The species is a long-distance migrant, some heading deep down into South America. They’re also early birds, one of the first to arrive and the first to leave. I rarely see them in NYC.Here’s the hen. The pair were dabbling in Return-a-Gift Pond last weekend. They are rather smaller than the omnipresent Mallards, which are actually quite big waterfowl.The 2nd Atlas of Breeding Birds in NY State (2008) notes that their decline in the state has been marked. There were no birds breeding in NYC; the first atlas 20 years earlier showed them on Staten Island and Nassau country. Shallow ponds are their preferred habitat. The loss of agricultural land may be one of the reasons they’re doing poorly here. Also, of course, as migrants, they get it at both ends as their wintering grounds in the Caribbean and South America are chopped up, polluted, etc. Hunters in the U.S. bagging their “four-bird limit in 15 minutes” don’t help much either.
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