The Outdoor Journal by Kyle Carroll
What is the second most common duck in North America, behind the Mallard? If you answered, “Blue-winged Teal” you were correct. The population of these birds has remained stable over the last 40 years. By stable, the literature means they fluctuate between a continental population of between 3 to 7 million birds each year depending on drought and other factors. Hunters shoot between 200 and 500,000 of these fast flying ducks each fall. That statistic is a little surprising when you think about the fact that most of these early migrants are gone by the time the waterfowl season opens each autumn.
Teal, including the Green Wing and Cinnamon Teal, are early migrants in the fall, and one of the last to return in the spring. They are also long range migrants. Most of their tribe winter along the Gulf coast or in Southern California, but some fly all the way to Mexico and South America to winter. One individual banded in Alberta was shot in Venezuela a month later.* That's moving right along.
The actual flight speed of teal is a little surprising, coming in at a pretty average of 30 mph for a duck. Mallards for example fly 40-60 mph. What teal do that make the listed 30 mph speed seem way slow is that they buzz you in formation at pretty close range. You can hear the whooosh of wings as they whiz by.
Most states have an early teal season to take advantage of this early migrating species. Missouri's Teal season runs from September 7 through the 22nd. Hunters can harvest six birds daily, but you have to shoot well to bag a limit.
* Cornell – All About Birds website