Living Bird Magazine
Cinnamon TealSpatula cyanoptera
- ORDER: Anseriformes
- FAMILY: Anatidae
The male Cinnamon Teal shimmers with a rich ruddy plumage, made all the more incandescent by the summer sun slanting across reedy wetlands in interior western North America. Males molt this brilliant plumage soon after breeding, becoming much more similar to female and immature birds, and very similar to other teal species, especially Blue-winged Teal. Look for Cinnamon’s longer and wider bill to help tell them apart. An entirely separate population of Cinnamon Teal lives in South America.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Look for Cinnamon Teal feeding at the fringes of shallow wetlands, among or at the edges of rushes, sedges, and reeds. Morning and late afternoon are usually the best times to search, and a spotting scope is helpful (bird walk leaders usually bring one for a group to share). Nonbreeding Cinnamon Teal can be drab and hard to identify, but males molt back into their reddish body plumage by midwinter. This is a western species, but rarities do turn up in the East, particularly in Florida.
- Cerceta Colorada (Spanish)
- Sarcelle cannelle (French)
- Cool Facts
- The female Cinnamon Teal often places her nest below matted, dead stems of vegetation so it is completely concealed on all sides and from above. She approaches the nest through tunnels in the vegetation.
- Waterfowl fanciers (aviculturalists) often keep this gorgeous duck in their collections, and sometimes these birds escape captivity. Most collectors put a non-aluminum band on the legs of their birds, but if this is missing it can cause problems for ornithologists, because it can be hard to know whether an out-of-range sighting is of a wild bird or an escapee.
- The Cinnamon Teal is unusual among ducks: it has separate breeding populations in North America and South America.
- Unlike most North American dabbling ducks, the Cinnamon Teal rarely breeds in the midcontinent prairie-parkland region.
- The oldest recorded Cinnamon Teal was a female and at least 10 years, 6 months old when she was found in California in 2010. She had been banded in the same state in 2001.