Blue- and green-winged teal are almost universally popular among waterfowlers, and cinnamon teal are treasured in the Pacific Flyway. Imitating the calls of all three teal species is relatively easy and can be surprisingly effective.
Blue-winged and cinnamon teal are closely related, and the two species can interbreed in areas where their ranges overlap. Hens of both species make greeting calls that sound vaguely like a mallard comeback call, only softer, faster, and more high pitched. This call begins with one long, shrill note, followed by three or four short, sharp quacks. It is a great attention-getter for passing flocks of teal and, used at the right moment, will often turn them on a dime toward your decoys. Drakes make subtle whistles and peeps that are easily reproduced on any multispecies duck whistle.
“Most teal will buzz your decoys, and they will often make a second pass if you call them,” says Tony Ruiz of Primos Game Calls (primos.com), who grew up hunting teal in the coastal marshes of south Louisiana. “Get their attention with quacks, and peep them the rest of the way in.”
Ruiz believes greenwings are easier to call than bluewings. Those same blue-winged teal quacks, as well as standard mallard calls, will grab their attention, but busy whistling often finishes the deal. “In the winter, greenwings are often in large groups. If you can turn one, you can turn them all,” he says. “You want to call with a little more volume. And I like to sound like many birds calling at once. If you’ve ever listened to teal feeding, it sounds like a bunch of little kids at a party blowing toy whistles. So let everyone in the blind whistle at them.”