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Species, Age and Sex Identification of Ducks Using Wing Plumage

Blue-winged and Cinnamon Teals


Sex Determination

The speculum of males is a bright iridescent green and that of females is a dull non-iridescent green. Rarely, a female may show a trace of iridescence. The greater secondary coverts of males appear entirely white on their outer webs while those of females are heavily dark spotted and frequently appear more dark than light. A few males may show some spots in the greater coverts.

Age Determination of Males

Tertials of adults are greenish black, rarely frayed, and very long and pointed. They are trimmed with a very narrow tan edging. Tertials of the immature plumage have wide edging which is tan and they are much shorter and more bluntly pointed than those of adults. They are brownish and often somewhat frayed and faded at the tips. Adult-type tertials occur on immatures and are similar to those of adult males but are usually still growing in December. Adult and replaced tertial coverts of immatures are similar, i.e. a dark brownish black without edging but usually showing a blue wash. Immature-type tertial coverts are brown, usually with pronounced edging and tan and usually not washed with blue.

Age Determination of Females

Tertials of adults are much more bluntly pointed than are the immature tertials. In addition, immature tertials frequently become somewhat frayed at their tips. Tertial coverts of adults are usually straight sided to a rounded tip, whereas those of immature birds usually narrow slightly to a rounded tip that often shows traces of fading. Well proportioned white inverted "V's" generally indicate adults.

Wing Character Male Female
Adult Immature Immature Adult
Secondaries Iridescent green speculum on many feathers All feathers a dull non-iridescent green
Greater coverts Mostly white to all white Mostly with dark spots; sometimes predominately dark with little or no trace of white
Unspotted or sometimes one spot at tips Sometimes 2 or more dark spots at tips Pattern usually other than inverted "V's" Tendency toward white inverted "V's"
Tertials Long acute tips; greenish to narrowly edged with light brown; not frayed or faded Pointed dark brown; with light brown edging; often frayed or faded Pointed blunt tips; well edged with light brown; not frayed or faded
After molt: Similar to adult male After molt: Similar to adult female
Tertial coverts Broadly rounded; dark brown washed with blue; usually without edging; not frayed or faded Narrow; somewhat pointed; often with light brown edging; may be frayed or faded Broadly rounded; dark brown usually with pronounced light brown edging; not frayed or faded
After molt: Similar to adult male After molt: Similar to adult female


JPG-Adult male blue-winged teal JPG-Adult female blue-winged teal JPG-Immature male blue-winged teal JPG-Immature female blue-winged teal

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