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Blue-winged Teal -
Native Species Global Rank
Agency Status USFWS
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Species slightly sexually dimorphic. Both sexes have a large chalky blue patch on upper wing; brighter blue in males. Males in breeding plumage have large, gray head with a large white crescent in front of eye; cinnamon under parts heavily speckled with black spots. Female body plumage mottled brown with whitish patch at base of bill; dark line through eye, small whitish crescents above and below eye; and grayish to yellow legs and feet.
For a comprehensive review of the conservation status, habitat use, and ecology of this and other Montana bird species, please see
Marks et al. 2016, Birds of Montana.
Western Hemisphere Range
Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations:
(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version)
Map Help and Descriptions
SUMMER (Feb 16 - Dec 14)
Direct Evidence of Breeding
Indirect Evidence of Breeding
No Evidence of Breeding
WINTER (Dec 15 - Feb 15)
Not Regularly Observed
(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)
The Bozeman migration occurs from April 20 to May 30 and earlier and from September to October 15, with the peak May 15 and earlier. In September 1957, 300 were seen on Hebgen Lake during fall migration (Skaar 1969).
Main habitat consists of shallow ponds with adequate supplies of aquatic invertibrates. Prefers to nest in grass or herbaceous vegetation and rarely uses brushy nesting cover.
Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
How Associations Were Made
We associated the use and habitat quality (common or occasional) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for
vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2012, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species' range and habitat requirements;
Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point observation database associated with each ecological system;
Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of "observations versus availability of habitat".
Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.
In general, species were listed as associated with an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.
However, species were not listed as associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system,
point observations were associated with that system.
Common versus occasional association with an ecological system was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species as represented in scientific literature.
The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignment of common versus occasional association.
If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact the Montana Natural Heritage Program's Senior Zoologist.
Suggested Uses and Limitations
Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.
These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at:
) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.
Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.
Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.
Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).
Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species' known geographic range.
Adams, R.A. 2003. Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado. 289 p.
Dobkin, D. S. 1992. Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34. Missoula, MT.
Foresman, K.R. 2012. Mammals of Montana. Second edition. Mountain Press Publishing, Missoula, Montana. 429 pp.
Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998. Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates. Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT. 1302 p.
Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young. 1999. Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32. 72 p.
Maxell, B.A. 2000. Management of Montana's amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species. Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1. Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana. 161 p.
Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath. 2004. Amphibians and reptiles of Montana. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.
Commonly Associated with these Ecological Systems
Human Land Use
Recently Disturbed or Modified
Wetland and Riparian Systems
Occasionally Associated with these Ecological Systems
Wetland and Riparian Systems
Diet consists of aquatic inveritbrates, seeds, vegetative parts of aquatic plants, duckweeds, algae, and occasional grains from agricultural crops. Animal matter dominates diet of laying females.
At Freezeout Lake, skunks were the major cause of unsuccessful nests.
In north-central Montana brood size was 5.9. Nesting records are from mid-May to August 20. At Freezeout Lake, grassland nests were more successful (18.5%) than those in other habitat types (14.3%). The average clutch size was 5.8. Hatching dates were from May 21 to August 10. In the Fortine area, egg dates were from June 13 to July 31.
Literature Cited Above
Legend: View Online Publication Marks, J.S., P. Hendricks, and D. Casey. 2016. Birds of Montana. Arrington, VA. Buteo Books. 659 pages. Skaar, P.D. 1969. Birds of the Bozeman latilong: a compilation of data concerning the birds which occur between 45 and 46 N. latitude and 111 and 112 W. longitude, with current lists for Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, impinging Montana counties and Yellowstone National Park. Bozeman, MT. 132 p. Additional References
Legend: View Online Publication Do you know of a citation we're missing? [WWPC] Washington Water Power Company. 1995. 1994 wildlife report Noxon Rapids and Cabinet Gorge Reservoirs. Washington Water Power Company. Spokane, WA. American Ornithologists’ Union [AOU]. 1998. Check-list of North American birds, 7th edition. American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, D.C. 829 p. Bayless, S.R. 1992. Duck population responses to water development in north central Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 69 p. Belanger, L. 1988. Use of man-made ponds by dabbling duck broods. J. Wildl. Manage. 52(4): 718-723. Berg, P.F. 1955. A study of waterfowl broods in Eastern Montana with special reference to movements and the relationship of reservoir fencing to production. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 31 p. Bird Conservancy of the Rockies. 2017. Pocket Guide to Northern Prairie Birds. Brighton, CO: Bird Conservancy of the Rockies. 98 p. Bramblett, R.G., and A.V. Zale. 2002. Montana Prairie Riparian Native Species Report. Montana Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, Montana State University - Bozeman. Butler, M.A. 1996. The validity of using artificial nests to assess nest-predation rates in prairie nesting ducks. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 82 p. Cameron, E. S. 1907. The birds of Custer and Dawson counties, Montana. Auk 24(3): 241-270. Confluence Consulting Inc. 2010. Montana Department of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports (various sites). MDT Helena, MT. Confluence Consulting Inc. 2011. Montana Department of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports (various sites). MDT Helena, MT. Confluence Consulting Inc. 2012. Montana Department of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports (various sites). MDT Helena, MT. Confluence Consulting Inc. 2013. Montana Department of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports (various sites). MDT Helena, MT. 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(Ecological Consulting Service), Helena, MT., 1976, Colstrip 10 x 20 Area wildlife and wildlife habitat annual monitoring report, 1976. Proj. 135-85-A. December 31, 1976. ECON, Inc. (Ecological Consulting Service), Helena, MT., 1977, Colstrip 10 x 20 Area wildlife and wildlife habitat annual monitoring report, 1977. Proj. 164-85-A. December 31, 1977. ECON, Inc. (Ecological Consulting Service), Helena, MT., 1979, Annual wildllife report of the Colstrip Area for 1978. Proj. 195-85-A. April 6, 1979. ECON, Inc. (Ecological Consulting Service), Helena, MT., 1979, Annual wildllife report of the Colstrip Area for 1979, including a special raptor research study. Proj. 216-85-A. March 1, 1980. ECON, Inc. (Ecological Consulting Service), Helena, MT., 1979, Area B four-section wildlife report. August 3, 1979. Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder’s handbook: a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Schuster Inc. New York. 785 pp. Ellig, L.J. 1953. Waterfowl relationships to Greenfields Lake, Teton County, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 49 p. Elliott, Joe C. and Hydrometrics, Inc., Helena, MT., 1994, Supplement to wildlife baseline investigation life-of-mine expansion plan: Regal Mine, Barretts Minerals, Inc., Madison County, Montana. August 2000. In Life-of Mine Expansion Plan: Barretts Minerals, Inc., Regal Mine, Madison County, Montana. Vol. 2. App. C: Baseline Wildlife Reconnaissance. December 1999. Fields, S.P. 2011. Factors influencing the density and distribution of breeding waterfowl in north-central Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 112 p. Gjersing, F.M. 1971. A study of waterfowl production on two rest rotation grazing units in northcentral Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 42 p. Gniadek, S. 1983. Southwest Glendive Wildlife Baseline Inventory. Miles City, Mont: Bureau of Land Management, Miles City District Office. 56 pp with appendices. Goodell, J. 2012. Morse Land Company Breeding Bird Inventory And Analysis. High Desert Museum. Bend, OR. 42 pp + Appendices. Hand, R.L. 1969. A distributional checklist of the birds of western Montana. Unpublished. Available at Mansfield Library, University of Montana, Missoula. Hays, R., R.L. Eng, and C.V. Davis (preparers). 1984. A list of Montana birds. Helena, MT: MT Dept. of Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Hendricks, P, S. Lenard, and C. Currier. 2012. Grassland Bird Surveys in North Valley County and Northwest Phillips County, Montana: 2011 Summary. Report to the USDI Bureau of Land Management. Montana Natural Heritage Program. Helena, MT. 7pp. Hendricks, P., G.M. Kudray, S. Lenard, and B.A. Maxell. 2007. A Multi-Scale Analysis Linking Prairie Breeding Birds to Site and Landscape Factors Including USGS GAP Data. Helena, Mont: Montana Natural Heritage Program. Hendricks, P., S. Lenard, D.M. Stagliano, and B.A. Maxell. 2013. Baseline nongame wildlife surveys on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Report to the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, MT. 83 p. Herbert, J.T. 1977. An inventory of the bird population within the Sarpy Creek drainage, southeastern Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 81 p. Hudson, M.S. 1980. Waterfowl production on three age-classes of stock ponds in north central Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 45 p. Johnsgard, P.A. 1975. Waterfowl of North America. Indiana University Press, Bloomington. Johnsgard, P.A. 1979. Birds of the Great Plains: breeding species and their distribution. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln. 539 pp. Johnsgard, P.A. 1992. Birds of the Rocky Mountains with particular reference to national parks in the northern Rocky Mountain region. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. xi + 504 pp. Johnson, D.H. and J.W. Grier. 1988. Determinants of breeding and distributions of ducks. Wildl. Monogr. 100: 1-37. Johnson, K.M. 1990. Aquatic vegetation, salinity, aquatic invertebrates, and duck brood use at Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 77 p. Joslin, Gayle, and Heidi B. Youmans. 1999. Effects of recreation on Rocky Mountain wildlife: a review for Montana. [Montana]: Montana Chapter of the Wildlife Society. Klett, A.T., T.L. Shaiffer, and D.H. Johnson. 1988. Duck nest success in the Prairie Pothole Region. J. Wildl. Manage. 52(3): 431-440. Knight, R.R. 1960. Vegetative characteristics of two water areas in Teton County, Montana, in relation to waterfowl usage. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 38 p. Knight, R.R. 1965. Vegetative characteristics and waterfowl usage of a Montana water area. J. Wildl. Manage. 29(4):782-788. Knopf, F.L. 1986. Changing landscapes and the cosmopolitism of the eastern Colorado avifauna. Wildlife Society Bulletin 14(2):132-142. Koons, D.N., G. Gunnarsson, J.A. Schmutz, and J.J. Rotella. 2014. Drivers of waterfowl populations dynamics: from teal to swans. Wildfowl 4:169-191. Lambing, J. H., D. A. Nimick, J. R. Knapton, and D. U. Palawski. 1994. Physical, chemical, and biological data for detailed study of the Sun River Irrigation Project, Freezout Lake Wildlife Management Area, and Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge, west-central Montana, 1990-92, with selected data for 1987-89. Open-File Report 94-120, U.S. Geological Survey, Helena, Montana. Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2002: Ridgeway Wetland Complex: Mitigation Pond #9???, Ekalaka, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.025. February 2003. In 2002 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. II. 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Journal of Wildlife Management 30(4):668-681. Lokemoen, J.T. 1993. Increasing waterfowl nesting success on islands and peninsulas. Ch. 13.2.11 In: Waterfowl Management Handbook. Fish and Wildlife Service Leaflet. 7 p. Lokemoen, J.T. and D.E. Sharp. 1985. Assessment of nasal marker materials and designs used on dabbling ducks. Wildlife Society Bulletin 13:53-56. Lokemoen, J.T., and R.O. Woodward. 1992. Nesting waterfowl and water birds on natural islands in the Dakotas and Montana. Wildlife Society Bulletin 20:163-171. Lokemoen, J.T., H.F. Duebbert, and D.E. Sharp. 1990. Homing and reproductive habits of mallards, gadwalls, and blue-winged teal. Wildlife Monographs 106:1-28. Lorang, K.D. 1979. Waterfowl and hunter use of Freezeout Lake Game Management Area. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 79 p. Mack, G.D. and L.D. Flake. 1980. Habitat relationships of waterfowl broods on South Dakota stock ponds. J. Wildl. Manage. 44(3): 695-700. Matthews, W.L. 1980a. Wibaux-Beach comparison study: Sydney, Glendive and Plevna Study Areas. Bureau of Land Management, Miles City, MT. 50 p. Matthews, W.L. 1981. Broadus-Pumpkin Creek baseline inventory - wildlife. Bureau of Land Management, Miles City, MT. 83 p. McCarthy, J.J. 1973. Response of nesting Canada geese (Branta canadensis) to islands in stockdams in northcentral Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 36 p. Merendino, M.T., G.B. McCullough, and N.R. North. 1995. Wetland availability and use by breeding waterfowl in southern Ontario. J. Wildl. Manage. 59(3): 527-532. Miller, M.G. 1980. The influence of habitat features on waterfowl productivity on stock reservoirs in south Valley County, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 43 p. Montana Bird Distribution Committee. 2012. P.D. Skaar's Montana bird distribution. 7th Edition. Montana Audubon, Helena, Montana. 208 pp. + foldout map. Mora, M. A. 1995. 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