1. 26 Mar 1973


Honey Lake Wildlife Area LAS






Figure 18. Numbers of Common Teal reported to the regional editors of North American Birds and its predecessors each year since 1967/1968. Troughs evident in this chart may reflect observer effort/interest rather than actual fluctuations in the species’ rate of occurrence in California.

Common Teal

COMMON or EURASIAN TEAL Anas crecca crecca Linnaeus, 1758

Accepted: 1 (100%)

Treated in Appendix H: no

Not accepted: 0

CBRC review: 1973 records1

Not submitted/reviewed: NA

Color image: none

Green-winged Teal of the Old World—including A. c. crecca of northern and central Eurasia and the synonymized A. c. “nimia” of the Aleutian Islands (see Gibson and Kessel 1997)—are generally called Common (or Eurasian) Teal. These birds, which are migratory across most of their range, winter in western Europe, northern and central Africa, and the Middle East, and across southern Asia to Japan. Common Teal are encountered rarely along both coasts of North America and casually in the interior. Several have been recorded in Hawaii.

California’s first Common Teal was a male present 29 January–24 February 1962 in Bonita, San Diego County (AFN 16:364). The first specimen refers to a male shot on 6 January 1968 near Arcata, Humboldt County (Harris and Gerstenberg 1970). Because the CBRC does not evaluate records of subspecies, records of the Common Teal were reviewed only briefly before unification of the world’s Green-winged Teals (e.g., Mayr and Short 1970, AOU 1973, Palmer 1976, Cramp and Simmons 1977, BOU 1992). Note, however, that the BOU (2001) has reverted to according the Common Teal species status.

Common Teal have been reported annually in California since the winter of 1967/1968 (Figure 18), mostly from among waterfowl concentrations along the northern and central coasts. The records are not evenly spread along the coast, however. For example, Monterey County claims only five records (Roberson 2002) compared with nine for San Diego County (Unitt 2004). Inland records come mostly from the Modoc Plateau and Central Valley, but extend south to the Salton Sea, where two have been found (Patten et al. 2003).

These birds probably would be documented more thoroughly and frequently if the Common Teal was still considered a full species in the United States. Figure 18 shows substantial fluctuations in California reports of this taxon over the past few decades, perhaps reflecting a periodic waxing and waning of interest among birders for identifying and reporting these birds.

Virtually all of the state’s records have occurred from fall through spring, and Harris (2006) published bracketing dates of 2 October and 6 May. Many are from January and February, and there may be a small spike in late February and March, coinciding with the northbound movement of flocks of Green-winged Teal. We are aware of one summer record, involving a male present from 3 to 27 June 1987at the north end of the Salton Sea (Patten et al. 2003).

Nearly all California records of the Common Teal involve males in breeding plumage. The females of crecca and carolinensis are essentially inseparable in the field, although Millington (1998) proposed some field marks. Hybrid males—showing both the vertical white stripe on the side and the horizontal white stripe on the scapulars—have been reported many times in California and elsewhere.

1On the review list 1972–1973