Blue Winged Teal

Iowans have the opportunity to participate in a special teal-only season that is timed to take advantage of the peak migration of teal through Iowa. Although all teal species are legal during this special season, blue-winged teal will be, by far, the most prevalent in Iowa.

Bluewings are a common nester throughout the prairie pothole region of North America and the second most abundant duck. The mallard is number one. Blue-winged teal are also Iowa’s earliest migrating duck, leaving their nesting grounds in August and September.

Migratory Game Bird Regulations
Fees, Special Hunts, Migratory Game Bird Season Dates, Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations, Reporting Banded Ducks and Geese, DNR Wildlife Refuges, Areas Closed to Waterfowl Hunting, National Wildlife Refuges, Areas Closed to Canada Goose Hunting, Sunrise/Sunset Table, Trumpeter Swan Identification, Mourning Doves Information

Shooting Hours:
Sunrise to sunset (NOT regular duck season's half-hour before sunrise)

Bag Limits: Daily limit of 6, possession limit of 18

Locations: Entire state is open to hunting

License and Fees:
Small game license, habitat fee, Iowa migratory game fee and federal duck stamp (if required)

Ammo Requirements: Non-toxic shot

Where to Hunt:
A teal season will be different from the regular duck season.  With teal favoring shallow water and arriving too early in the year for many traditional waterfowling locations to be holding water, preseason scouting is a must.  The Wetland Habitat Conditions report will be updated just prior to the season.  For an overview of management constraints in consideration of the September teal season see: Wetland Management Considerations

Bird Identification:

Proper identification is critical during this special season because only teal are legal.
ID tips for Blue-winged Teal

Teal are the smallest ducks that migrate through Iowa. During early fall, both species are in non-breeding or eclipse plumage, so the drakes and hens of both species look like hens. Bluewings, as their name suggests have a sky-blue shoulder patch readily visible in flight. Greenwings, which are slightly smaller than bluewings, have brown feathers on their shoulders where the bluewings have their blue patch. Greenwings get their name from the longer green feathers that lie behind the shoulder feathers.

Teal are speedy and erratic fliers.  Flocks will dart around a marsh in unison, like a school of minnows. Quite often teal fly low over a marsh making one or two swings before abruptly touching down.

Hunters can benefit from preseason scouting. Proper identification of duck features and habits, particularly in flight, are critical to ensuring only teal are shot during this special season.

The following off-site links provide additional information about Blue-winged teal as well as other ducks.

Teal Hunting
Hunting Atlas
Check out the Iowa DNR's Hunting Atlas, an interactive map showing all public hunting lands.

Turn In Poachers Hotline is 800-532-2020If you witness or hear of poaching activity call the TIP HOTLINE (800) 532-2020 or visit our site and report it immediately.

Migratory Seasons by Zone

North Zone
September Teal Sept 3 - 11
Ducks, Coots
& Mergansers
Sept 24 - Oct 2
Oct 15 - Dec 4
Youth Waterfowl Sept 17 - 18
Dark Geese Sept 24 - Oct 9
Oct 15 - Jan 4
Light Geese Sept 24 - Oct 9
Oct 15 - Jan 13

South Zone
September Teal Sept 3 - 11
Ducks, Coots
& Mergansers
Oct 1 - 5
Oct 22 - Dec 15
Youth Waterfowl Sept 24 - 25
Dark Geese Oct 1 - 9
Oct 22 - Jan 18
Light Geese Oct 1 - 9
Oct 22 - Jan 27

Missouri River
September Teal Sept 3 - 18
Ducks, Coots
& Mergansers
Oct 8 - 9
Oct 22 - Dec 18
Youth Waterfowl oct 1 - 2
Dark Geese oct 8 - 16
Oct 22 - Jan 18
Light Geese Oct 8 - 16
Oct 22 - Jan 27

Statewide Seasons
Doves Sept 1 - Nov 9
Snipe Sept 3 - Nov 30
(Sora & Virginia)
Sept 3 - Nov 11
Woodcock Oct 1 - Nov 14

Dark geese include Canada geese, brant & white-fronted geese.
Light geese include white & blue phase snow geese and Ross' geese.
Doves include mourning & Eurasian collared.

Light Geese Conservation Order 
Statewide: Jan 28 - Apr 15 
(additional regulations apply)

Special Sept Canada Goose Season
Canada Geese: Sept 3 - 11
(only in designated zones around Des Moines, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City and Cedar Falls/Waterloo)

Migratory Game Bird Regulations.