The Common Teal (Querquedula crecca), Fig. 73, is included with the Anatinae or True Ducks and is the smallest of British ducks.

The Common Teal.

Fig. 73. - The Common Teal.

The head is coloured chestnut-brown above, the sides being of greenish hue on their upper parts and rich brown below, the two colours being separated by streaks of buff colour. The chin is nearly black; the back is greyish-white, mottled with dark streaks; the wings exhibit brown and purplish hues, and the tail is of a blackish-brown tint. The female is a general sombre brown in colour. The length of these birds is about 15 in.

The teal sometimes breeds in this country, but the greater number fly northwards in summer. It arrives in Britain in September and inhabits lakes and marshes. The nest is built of leaves and grasses, the eggs numbering from eight to ten, and being coloured a dirty or brownish white. The teal feeds mostly in the night, and its diet mainly consists of aquatic insects, molluscs, etc., varied with vegetation there and also on land, also feeding on slugs and other pests lurking in grass. It also fattens on the scattered grain of cornfields, and is well known for the delicacy of its flesh. Teal ducks are caught in decoys and shot by similar subterfuges, like the mallards.