The Robinson Library >> Science >> Zoology >> Birds >> Order Anseriformes
Cinnamon Teal

Anas cyanoptera [ah' nuhs sI' an op' ter uh]


Cinammon TealThere are five subspecies of cinnamon teal, each of which varies slightly in size and appearance from the others. There are, however, several characteristics shared by all of them.

An adult male's head, chest, and underside is generally purple-chestnut, and the abdomen is dark brown. The lower back and rear are greenish-brown, while the wing coverts are blue. The color of the shoulder feathers ranges from yellow with a center stripe to green with a center stripe, depending on subspecies. During the breeding season, the male's head, neck, belly, and flanks are bright red, while the back is dark brown.

The female has a green speculum with a white leading edge, and pale blue upper secondary coverts. During the non-breeding season both sexes look similar, but the male has red eyes and a brighter forewing.

Cinnamon teal average about 16 inches in length, have an average wingspan of about 7 inches, and weigh approximately 12 ounces.

Distribution and Habitat

The Northern Cinnamon Teal breeds in western North America from British Columbia south to California, and winters in the southwestern United States into Mexico; the Argentine subspecies breeds from southern Peru south into Argentina and the Falkland Islands; the Andean subspecies is found in the high elevation areas of Peru, Bolivia and Chile; the Tropical subspecies is found in the lowlands of Colombia, and; the Borrero's subspecies is found only in the highlands of Colombia.

All cinnamon teal prefer shallow ponds, marshes, and lakes with alkaline water, which are bordered by low herbaceous growth. They can also be found in basins that have extensively developed vegetation.


Mating pair bonds are renewed each winter. Females attract the males by swimming in front of the desired mate, while the males try to attract unpaired females by display preening, calling, and head dipping. If several males are competing for one female, the drakes perform short flight displays, with the female choosing a "winner."

The nest, which is a half-moon-shaped construction made from plant stems and dead grass, is located near water in perennial vegetation.

Males protect the nest sites from predators, but they tend to circle the area rather than directly protecting the nest as the females do.

Young birds are able to leave the nest within 24 hours of hatching, but remain with the mother until fledging, which occurs after the seventh week. Sexual maturity is reached after one year.


Cinnamon teal feed in the shallow waters of marshes and lakes, as well as along the shorelines of such bodies of water.

On water, cinnamon teal will dive for vascular rooted plants, as well as for insects and other aquatic invertebrates. They will also feed on floating vascular plants. On land, they feed on the flowers and fruits of grass-like vegetation, as well as some grains and nuts.

Habits and Behaviors

Cinnamon teal are usually found in small flocks, comprising pairs of birds. Migratory flocks generally don't exceed more than twenty or so birds.

Unlike most species of ducks, cinnamon teal are fairly agile on land. They are also very agile fliers, able to make sudden and sharp turns while flying low. They take off to flight directly from water, as opposed to the "running start" procedure used by other ducks.

Paired birds dominate unpaired birds, and males dominate females (except during brood-rearing).

Scientific Classification

phylum Chordata
subphylum Vertebrata
class Aves
order Anseriformes
family Anatidae
subfamily Anatinae
genus & species Anas cyanoptera
A.c. orinomus Andean
A.c. cyanoptera Argentine
A.c. borreroi Borrero's
A.c. septentrionalium
A.c. tropica Tropical

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The Robinson Library >> Science >> Zoology >> Birds >> Order Anseriformes

This page was last updated on June 15, 2017.