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Return to Easily Identify Dabbling Ducks   

Waterfowl Identification

Dabbling Ducks Family

Cinnamon Teal
Anas cyanoptera


male
female
Similar Waterfowl:
Female Blue Winged Teal
Description:

Male cinnamon teal have a cinnamon-red head, neck, breast, and belly. They have an iridescent green speculum, which is separated from a bluish shoulder patch by a white stripe. The back, rump, uppertail coverts, and tail are a dull brown and the undertail coverts are black. They have a distinctive red eye, a black bill and yellow legs and feet. Female cinnamon teal are often confused with female blue-winged teal. They have a duller blue shoulder patch, an overall rustier color, and are more heavily streaked.

Typical Size:

The male and female average 16 inches in length and weigh 1 pound. They have a wingspan of 25 inches.

Habitat:

They prefer small, shallow alkaline wetlands surrounded by low herbaceous cover.

Breeding:
The majority of cinnamon teal breed in the western USA near the Great Salt Lake, Malheur Basin, San Luis Valley, and Cariboo-Chilcotin parklands. Nests are often located in grassy areas and island nesting is common. Female cinnamon teal lay an average of 8 to 10 eggs.
Diet:

Cinnamon teal dabble on aquatic plants in shallow water areas, especially rush seeds, pondweed seeds and leaves, and salt grass seeds. They also feed on animal food, especially aquatic insects and mollusks.

Migration:
Nearly all cinnamon teal winter in Mexico and Central America. During migration the Great Salt Lake marshes and the Central Valley of California are important staging areas. Cinnamon teal are commonly sighted in the Midwestern and eastern USA, and are often associated with a flock of blue-winged teal, most likely attaching themselves to the flock on their mutual breeding grounds. Cinnamon teal are common winter visitors to Central America.
Flyway Patterns:

The cinnamon teal are found throughout all flyways during migration.

Flight Formation:

Small compact flocks in a direct line. Flight is swift, strong and erratic. Speeds reach 60 MPH.

Voice:
The male has low chattering and the female has a weak QUACK.


Cinnamon Teal Flight and Plumage Characteristics

This guide will help you recognize cinnamon winged teal on the wing - it emphasizes their fall and winter plumage patterns as well as size, shape, and flight characteristics. Cinnamon teal are far more common in the Pacific Flyway than blue-wings. The hens look the same as the blue winged teal and the habits of both species are similar. The pale blue forewing patch is the best way to tell them apart, as the cinnamon drakes are usually in eclipse at least until January. Hens utter a low quack and drakes have a whistling peep.

 
Source: Hines, Robert W. Ducks at a distance: A waterfowl identification guide. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southwest Natural and Cultural Heritage Association, Albuquerque, NM.

 

 



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