As I surveyed the restoration work in Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary’s again nation, I seen small geese in an open water patch, usually dipping their heads beneath the water’s floor. Immediately, the flock of about 20 birds arose quickly from the water and rapidly flew off. Flashes of blue on their wings informed me I used to be blue-winged teals (Spatula discors).
These small geese are long-distance migrants. They sometimes breed in northern North America and Canada, and whereas some will cease and spend their winters in sunny Florida, many will proceed on to South America. They’re a few of the earliest birds to go away the north for his or her wintering grounds and newest to go away within the spring to go again north. They are often present in shallow, freshwater marshes and ponds. At their wintering grounds inside the USA, they choose contemporary or brackish vegetated wetlands with decaying natural matter.
Blue-winged teals are omnivorous, which means they forage on each vegetation and animals. They’ll eat aquatic invertebrates like snails, clams, and crustaceans, however can even devour vegetation and grains, particularly in the course of the winter.
Males will court docket females utilizing a wide range of shows, together with one which includes submerging your entire forepart of the physique whereas the tail is raised and ft are up within the air, waving. This courtship begins in early winter and the pair formation will proceed throughout spring migration as they head again north to their nesting grounds.
The feminine decides on a location and builds the nest. To guard it from predators, she conceals the nest by including vegetation on all sides; nests are even tough to see from above. The nest itself is a round melancholy lined with dried grasses and down and breast feathers. Clutch sizes are round a dozen eggs, and eggs hatch after an incubation interval of three to 4 weeks.
As soon as the younger hatch, they’re able to go away the nest inside 24 hours. And whereas they’re tended to by the feminine for the primary few weeks, ducklings are capable of finding their very own meals; they’re usually left alone nicely earlier than they’re sufficiently old to fly, which is roughly six weeks after hatching.
The sanctuary is open each day, and tickets should be bought on-line. Go to Corkscrew.Audubon.org/go to.