Green Winged Teal:
Green winged teal are the smallest dabbling duck in the United States. Commonly found feeding in shallow ponds and marshes. Male Green Winged Teal have a deep cinnamon colored head with a beautiful green sash around the eyes. They are the fourth most common species with numbers around 3.6 million ducks. Green Winged Teal is one of the first birds alongside their blue winged friends to migrate first. They tend to not like the cold weather making their push quickly and in large numbers. 50,000 birds in a flock are common sightings. However, something unique and special to waterfowl hunters is the hopes of harvesting a Banded Green Winged Teal out of that migrating flock.
Banded birds to waterfowl hunters is the equivalent of harvesting a trophy buck to a deer hunter. Bands usually worn around hunters necks are a status symbol. I’m sure many find it cocky or pretentious, but I’ve yet to find a hunter that I ask about their bands and they don’t have a story behind them. They are reminders of stories you wear with you for life.
Outside of collecting them they serve a great purpose for conservation workers studying waterfowl and their habitat. Millions of ducks are banded all over North America every year. Each band has a number that links to the bird species, gender, age and where it was banded. Providing researchers the opportunity to track population levels, understands environmental effects to help improve population management.
Banded Green Winged Teal:
Every year hundreds of thousands of birds are banded by researchers. The research has been studied and recorded since the early 1900’s. Over 13 million birds have been banded in the last hundred years. Of those 13 millions bands over half have been mallards which comes as too little surprise. Today there are 10.5 million mallards in North America. Of course, that doesn’t mean 7 million of those birds are banded, as birds have died of natural causes or been harvested by hunters over the year. However, a hunter is more likely to harvest a mallard with a band than a Banded Green Winged Teal. Because over that same period only 500,000 have been banded. With an overall population, today that is about a third the size of mallards.
Banded Green Winged Teal may not be the rarest band out there, but they do hold a sense of rarity. However I’m sure the hunters out there that have one, can tell you every detail of the hunt they harvested that band. Not every hunter has a banded story yet, let alone a green winged teal banded story. However early season teal hunting is a great time to increase your chances as they tend to migrate in large numbers every September. If you want to see exactly where banded birds in your flyway are harvested check out this link.