At a Glance
While many of our marsh ducks are found from coast to coast, the Cinnamon Teal is strictly western. Unique among our northern dabbling ducks, this teal also has nesting populations in South America. A close relative of Blue-winged Teal (and sometimes hybridizing with it), the Cinnamon Teal has a slightly larger bill, better developed for straining food items out of the water. In some ways this species seems intermediate between Blue-winged Teal and Northern Shoveler.
All bird guide text and rangemaps adapted from Lives of North American Birds by Kenn Kaufman© 1996, used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Duck-like Birds, Surface Feeding Ducks
Coasts and Shorelines, Freshwater Wetlands, Lakes, Ponds, and Rivers, Saltwater Wetlands
Alaska and The North, California, Eastern Canada, Florida, Great Lakes, Northwest, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Southwest, Texas, Western Canada
Range & Identification
Migration & Range Maps
May migrate mostly by day. Not so much a long-distance migrant as Blue-winged Teal. Some records of northern Cinnamons reaching South America, based on banding returns, may reflect misidentifications: some teal are very hard to identify in fall, even in the hand, so some Blue-wings may be banded under guise of Cinnamon Teal.
14-17" (36-43 cm). Bright chestnut male unmistakable in spring. Female very much like female Blue-wing, with same wing pattern, but has slightly heavier and longer bill, plainer and browner face. Many males in fall still wear drab eclipse plumage, looking much like females except for their red eyes.
About the size of a Crow, About the size of a Mallard or Herring Gull
Blue, Brown, Green, Red
Rounded, Short, Wedge-shaped
Songs and Calls
A soft quack; various chattering and clucking notes.
Marshes, fresh ponds. Favors fresh or alkaline shallow lakes, extensive marshes. Generally not in coastal salt marshes. In migration, may pause on any kind of small pond or reservoir. South American races may use wider variety of habitats.
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9-12, sometimes 4-16. Whitish to very pale buff. Incubation is by female only, 21-25 days. Young: female leads young to water after they hatch. Young find their own food; capable of flight 7 weeks after hatching. If danger threatens young, adult female may put on broken-wing act as a distraction display. Unlike most duck species, male may not abandon mate until near the time the eggs hatch, and sometimes is seen accompanying female and young brood.
Female leads young to water after they hatch. Young find their own food; capable of flight 7 weeks after hatching. If danger threatens young, adult female may put on broken-wing act as a distraction display. Unlike most duck species, male may not abandon mate until near the time the eggs hatch, and sometimes is seen accompanying female and young brood.
Usually forages in shallow water, swimming forward with head partly submerged, straining food from water. One feeding bird may follow another, taking advantage of food stirred up by paddling actions of first bird. Occasionally feeds on land near water.
Mainly seeds. Plant material in diet includes seeds of smartweeds, sedges, grasses, pondweeds, others. Also eats insects, snails, small crustaceans. In one study, migrants consumed mostly seeds and other plant material in fall, a higher proportion of animal matter (mainly insects) in spring.
Several males may court one female, making ritualized mock feeding and preening movements. Short display flights may develop into pursuit flights, with males chasing female. Nest site usually close to water among good cover of sedges, weeds, salt grass, generally well concealed. Nest is a shallow depression with some dead grass and weeds added, lined with down. Female selects nest site and builds nest.
Common and widespread.
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Cinnamon Teal. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.
Climate Threats Facing the Cinnamon Teal
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.