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.
Category
Duck-like Birds, Surface Feeding Ducks
Conservation
Low Concern
Habitat
Coasts and Shorelines, Freshwater Wetlands, Lakes, Ponds, and Rivers, Saltwater Wetlands
Region
Alaska and The North, California, Eastern Canada, Florida, Great Lakes, Northwest, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Southwest, Texas, Western Canada
Behavior
Direct Flight
Population
380.000

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.

Description

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.
Size
About the size of a Crow, About the size of a Mallard or Herring Gull
Color
Blue, Brown, Green, Red
Wing Shape
Pointed
Tail Shape
Rounded, Short, Wedge-shaped

Songs and Calls

A soft quack; various chattering and clucking notes.
Call Pattern
Flat
Call Type
Rattle

Habitat

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.

Behavior

Eggs

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.

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.

Feeding Behavior

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.

Diet

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.

Nesting

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.

Climate Vulnerability

Conservation Status

Common and widespread.

Climate Map

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.