Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Blue-winged Teal - Spatula discors
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General Comments Unlike nearly all other species of waterfowl in the East, the bulk of the population of Blue-winged Teals winters to the south of North Carolina; thus, it is seen mainly as a spring and fall migrant. However, small numbers do winter in the state, typically only near the coast. A few pairs nested coastally, starting around 1938 at Pea Island and in the Onslow/Pamlico area since 1969 (Potter et al. 2006), but reports of apparent nesting have been lacking in recent years. Blue-winged Teals occur in typical places for puddle ducks: impoundments, lakes (mostly near shorelines), and ponds, always on fresh water and usually near cover of marsh vegetation.
Breeding Status Former Breeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status W
U.S. Status
State Rank SHB,S2N
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain Common spring and fall migrant in the Tidewater section, including the coast; generally uncommon in winter in these areas. Inland, fairly common migrant; rare winter visitor. Average dates: mid-Aug to mid-May; not unusual as early as Jul. Current breeding status is uncertain, though there have been no reports of nests or presumed nesting since at least 1990. Regularly nested at Pea and Bodie islands from about 1938 to at least 1970. A total of nine nests were found at an impoundment at West Onslow Beach in 1970. A pair nested at Brant Island, Carteret, in 1980. Peak counts:
Piedmont Uncommon to often fairly common spring and fall migrant; mid-Mar to mid-May, and late Aug to mid-Oct. A few records for Jun and Jul, including a pair that remained at Pineville (Mecklenburg) from 16 May - 21 Jul 2023. Very rare to rare winter visitor, but does not overwinter in the province. Accidental breeder; female with young at Lake Sabotta at Camp Raven Knob in Surry in 1960, an adult with 3 ducklings at North Wilkesboro (Wilkes) in 1969, and a female and seven young reported at Beaverdam Reservoir (Wake) in 1982. Peak counts: 100, Cowan's Ford refuge (Mecklenburg), 29 Sep 1997.
Mountains Uncommon spring and fall migrant, mainly at low elevations; early Apr to early May, and late Aug to late Oct. Very rare winter visitor. Peak counts:

An apparent male hybrid Blue winged Teal x Northern Shoveler was photographed on Price Lake (Watauga) on 2 Apr 2023 [Chat 87:50 link].

Finding Tips This species is easily found at coastal impoundments and other freshwater bodies near the coast, in spring and fall. It can be difficult to find on CBC's, however. Inland birds are most easily found in spring, such as during Apr.
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Attribution LeGrand[2023-10-18], LeGrand[2023-08-09], LeGrand[2023-03-01]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.
NC Breeding Season Map
Map depicts assumed breeding season abundance for the species.