(Photo: Arkansas Game and Fish Commission)
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- It's Thursday and that means its Bird of the Week time on "THV 11 News at Noon".
And today's bird is for all those Arkansas duck lovers. We are talking about the blue-winged teal.
It's a small duck that gets its own waterfowl season here in Arkansas.
Everything you need to know about it and where it gets its name, Sarah Baxter with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has all the information.
The blue-winged teal is a small dabbling duck species that spends winter in Central America and into northern South America and breed in central and northern North America.
Males and females are the same size and have very similar plumages, but males have a very distinctive half-moon crescent of white between their eyes and their bill.
All plumages have a chalky blue patch on their wing, which is where they get their name. There are two other species of teal that have been spotted in Arkansas. The seasonally common green-winged teal and the cinnamon teal, which are seen here rarely.
Like other dabblers, they do not do well on land and prefer to either swim or fly from place to place. They eat lots of aquatic vegetation and macro-invertebrates.
They have one of the longest-distance migrations of any duck species. An individual banded in Alberta, Canada was recovered 1 month later in Venezuela, having travelled about 3800 miles! The longest migration was recorded in 1949 when a bird banded in Manitoba was later recovered near Lima, Peru.
They usually leave earlier than other species heading to their wintering grounds, and are among the last spring migrant waterfowl to head back to their breeding grounds. They can be seen in Arkansas in high densities in early fall, on their way to their wintering grounds.
We have an early waterfowl hunting season for them in September, well before other waterfowl hunting seasons. They make their spring migration trip through Arkansas back toward their breeding grounds in early to mid-April, so they can be spotted in good numbers right now and for the next several weeks.
Many Blue-winged Teal use Arkansas wetlands as stopovers on their way north in Spring, and may gather in groups of 10 - 40 individuals. For people interested in spotting this bird, you have a good shot at seeing them at Bell Slough WMA, Harris Brake WMA, Wattensaw WMA, or for those who would like to venture outside central Arkansas, Big Lake WMA, Trusten Holder WMA, Bayou Meto WMA, or any other place with shallow ponds and aquatic vegetation.