Duck migration is a feature of early spring. Over much of North America, ducks are on the move in March, or even February. One of the last species to migrate is Blue-winged Teal, a small, elegant dabbler of freshwater marshes. When the Blue-wings arrive, it’s a sure sign that winter is over.
Until recently, all dabbling ducks on this continent were classified in a single genus, Anas. In a taxonomic shakeup in 2016, several were moved out to other genera. Blue-winged Teal, along with Cinnamon Teal and Northern Shoveler, is now in the genus Spatula(easy to remember if you think about the shoveler’s bill). All three of these have a large, pale blue patch on each wing, usually hidden except in flight.