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What Is the Cinnamon Teal?

By Britt Archer
Updated May 17, 2024
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Cinnamon teal is the common name of Anas cyanoptera, a type of duck known to amateur ornithologists and hunters alike. Native to North and South America, the duck is named for the characteristic breeding-season plumage of the male, which features bright red body feathers and iridescent blue and green wing feathers. These ducks belong in a category known as dabbling ducks, which bob along the surface of water to feed on shallow vegetation.

The species is split into several subspecies: the northern cinnamon teal; the tropical cinnamon teal; Borrero's cinnamon teal, which is thought to be extinct; the Andean cinnamon teal; and the Argentine cinnamon teal. Unlike other types of ducks, members of Anas cyanoptera keep separate breeding populations. The northern type only mate with other members in North America, for example, while the tropical type only mate with other ducks in South America. Breeding takes place during the summer months.

As with most ducks, the plumage of the female is less showy than that of the male. Females are mottled brown in color with a lighter blue patch on their wings. Female members of the species closely resemble blue-winged teal ducks but the saturation of the colors is richer in the cinnamon teal. Males in the non-breeding season and immature ducks resemble the females.

Measuring between 14.2 and 16.9 inches (36.06 and 42.92 centimeters) and weighing just 9.9 to 17.6 ounces (280.66 to 498.95 grams) for both sexes, members of Anas cyanoptera are considered small ducks. Despite their small stature, females are capable of laying between six and 12 eggs per season. After mating, the females build nests in tall grasses or reeds and line the nests with down and discarded feathers. The eggs are off-white in color with pink tones and hatch in approximately three weeks.

Cinnamon teal ducks are not monogamous, though they do maintain relationships with their mate for as long as it takes to successfully incubate the eggs to hatching. Chicks learn to fly between one to two months of age. Ducklings leave the nest shortly thereafter, owing to the rapid migratory habits of the bird.

Anas cyanoptera of all species migrate at the approach of winter. The northern type flocks to Mexico and Central America, as do some of the tropical birds. Argentine, Andean and others of the tropical type winter closer to their breeding grounds in South America.

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