Friends or Enemies?

Picture below taken by Jerry Kirkhart.

Photograph courtesy of Jerry Kirkhart

The blue winged teal has a great importance to humans. Along with the popular white tailed deer, they are popular with hunters as they are a beautiful catch with their coloration of blue on the wings and in the males, the crescent on the head. Hunting is a sport that is seen by many to control the populations of such species. In the case of the blue winged teal, hunting regulations are altered in order to accommodate for a lack or surplus of this species. In terms of hunting, human error had evolved with lead and copper as means of shots. There was evidence that waterfowl species would consume the stray lead or copper pellet shots in order to aid in the digestion of their food. However, once ingested, the lead and copper would be absorbed and the duck would become poisoned. There was a nationwide ban on the use of lead shot for waterfowl hunting and a switch to steel shot was made. This ban was of great success in saving the populations of waterfowl.          

Another way humans are involved with the species of the blue winged teal is the habitat it lives in. Pesticides being used by humans are affecting the diet of this duck and causing death or great harm. Trash, such as plastic bags, has become a source of danger for waterfowl due to it becoming trapped inside of or by its consumption of the trash. The destruction of the wetlands that humans are performing is causing a decline in the numbers of blue winged teal since they are not able to find suitable nesting grounds. Drainage for agriculture have caused a loss in wetlands, not allowing them to form a nest in many places they used to.

                                                               Blue-winged Teal

As in the case of many other birds, blue winged teals can negatively affect humans in the area of carrying the avian influenza.

Blue winged teals, as mentioned in the nutrition section, are known to eat mostly aquatic vegetation, seeds, and aquatic invertebrates. Therefore, they do not play an important role in the predation of other species. However, there is a high predation for the blue winged teal by certain animals such as raccoons, coyote, skunks, foxes, badgers, ground squirrels, and fox snakes. The blue winged teal has been known to flock with other species of waterfowl, including the Wood duck and the Common Merganser where they reside in similar habitats except for during the breeding season.

This teal has been known to be infected with disease and parasites such as Clostridium botulinum, Cestoda, aspergillosis, and the duck plague.



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