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.
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
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.