Anas formosaBaikal teal

Geographic Range

Baikal teals (Anas formosa) are seasonally migratory birds, typically travelling between north and east Siberia to southeast China. The birds travel to Siberia, Russia to breed in the summer, and migrate to southern Japan, southeastern China, and South Korea for the winter. In Siberia, these ducks can be found as far north as seventy degrees north latitude and west as far as eighty-five degrees east longitude. When wintering, the ducks can sometimes be found as far south as Myanmar and northeastern India. The wintering range may be growing in China, according to recent trends. However, the main concentration for wintering Baikal teals remains South Korea, with a population of over one million ducks in 2009. Vagrant ducks have been found in Alaska and the north-eastern coast of the United States, and occasionally in Europe. Many would attribute sightings in North America and Europe to the domestication and mass sale of these birds globally in the early 20th century. However, some individuals have been known to migrate from wild breeding grounds in Siberia to central Europe. ("Birds of Europe", 2009; "Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World", 1990; "Wild birds introduced or transplanted in North America", 1928; Bearhop, 2007; Howard and Moore, 1980; Lei and Chan, 2012; Young, 2010)


During the summer breeding season in Siberia, the ducks mate in freshwater ponds and pools in taiga and tundra regions. Nests can generally be found in nearby fields or among small stands of trees in bogs. In the winter, the birds arrive in southeast Asia to feed and allow adolescents to fully mature in the freshwater rivers and lakes, and occasionally in brackish water areas as well. When in their wintering zones, they typically stay near farmlands, feeding in the fields at night and staying on the water during the day. These birds are often seen on their wintering waterways in very large groups mixed with other species of ducks. ("Birds of Europe, Russia, China, and Japan", 2009; "Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World", 1990; Bearhop, 2007; Howard and Moore, 1980; Lee, et al., 2011; Lei and Chan, 2012; Lewthwaite, et al., 2008; Young, 2010)

  • Range elevation
    0 to 4500 m
    0.00 to 14763.78 ft
  • Average elevation
    440 m
    1443.57 ft

Physical Description

During the breeding season, from July through October, male teals display a vibrant plumage that makes them unmistakable. The males have gold on each cheek, a black stripe on the top of the head bordered by small white streaks, and a black line from each eye to the throat. The summer breeding plumage of males also includes dark pinkish breasts with a white stripe down the center, small white lines from the side of the breasts up to the shoulder, blue-grey sides, a black under tail, brown on the back, and long shoulder feathers with a black, white, and light brown streak pattern. Females are mostly brown covered with dark spots with an anterior whitish neck often extending to the cheeks. The facial pattern is highly contrasting, with dark eye stripes behind the eyes, and a small white patch of feathers in front of the eye on a dark background. During the non-breeding season, the males resemble the females in their complete brown color, but may retain some of the patterns near their eyes. The juveniles are brown with less contrast and definite patterns than the females. Male average weight is 437 grams, and the female averages 431 grams. The typical length of the duck is 39 to 43 cm, and adult wingspan ranges from 180 to 220 mm. ("Birds of Europe", 2009; "Wildfowl", 2010; Lee, et al., 2011; Young, 2010)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • male more colorful
  • Range mass
    431 to 437 g
    15.19 to 15.40 oz
  • Range length
    39 to 43 cm
    15.35 to 16.93 in
  • Range wingspan
    180 to 220 mm
    7.09 to 8.66 in


Typically migrating to Siberian swampy woodland and meadow breeding grounds at the near the end of March, individuals of Baikal teals soon begin courtship displays. These species-specific displays include the males "burping", a call made by quacking while vertically stretching the throat, and the females "nod-swimming." Almost all ducks are generally monogamous, but only for one breeding season. In late May, female Baikal teals choose the location and build their own nests, and lay between four and ten eggs. The eggs hatch approximately 24 days later. Most of the ducklings have learned to fly and have become independent from the mother by August. ("Animal Behavior", 1972; "Birds of Europe, Russia, China, and Japan", 2009; "Endangered wildlife and plants of the world", 2001; "Wildfowl", 2010; Lee, et al., 2011; Lei and Chan, 2012)

Baikal teals migrate north to eastern Siberia to breed, nest, and raise their young. The pair-forming displays help the ducks identify and select members of their own species with whom to breed. Female Baikal teals protect the eggs and continue to care for the ducklings until they reach independence at the beginning of August, approximately 4 to 5 weeks post-hastching. ("Animal Behavior", 1972; "Birds of Europe, Russia, China, and Japan", 2009; "Endangered wildlife and plants of the world", 2001; Lei and Chan, 2012; Young, 2010)

  • Breeding interval
    Baikal teals breed once yearly in late spring.
  • Breeding season
    Baikal teals breed annually in May.
  • Range eggs per season
    4 to 10
  • Range time to hatching
    24 to 25 days
  • Range fledging age
    4 to 5 weeks
  • Range time to independence
    4 to 5 weeks
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    1 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    1 years
  • Parental Investment
  • female parental care
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • protecting
      • female


Dabbling ducks closely related to Baikal teals, such as mallards, have been known to commonly reach the age of 25 years in the wild when not hunted. Hunting is the only major threat to the ducks resulting in a shortened lifespan. (Burton and Burton, 2002; Lee, et al., 2011; Lei and Chan, 2012)


Baikal teals are very social, often found in very large numbers in their southeastern Asian wintering grounds. From this area, they migrate to breeding grounds annually in late March. Here they exhibit pair forming displays such as the "burp" of the male and the "nod-swimming" of the female. The ducks stay in their breeding grounds, breeding with only one mate, until the ducklings can fly and are independent of their mothers. The females protect and raise the young, and the juveniles learn from observing their mother. They then migrate back to the wintering grounds at the beginning of August. The Baikal teal is among a group of ducks knows as dabbling ducks, named so for the way they feed while on the water. Rather than diving, dabbling ducks tip their bodies so that they can feed on underwater plants and invertebrates. These ducks are not territorial, but threatening gestures are common among them, recognizable when the male lifts its beak and displays the patterns on the neck. ("Animal Behavior", 1972; "Endangered wildlife and plants of the world", 2001; "Wildfowl", 2010; Bearhop, 2007; Howard and Moore, 1980; Khan, 2010; Lee, et al., 2011; Lei and Chan, 2012; Young, 2010)

Home Range

Baikal teals are non-territorial, but live in large communities. ("Birds of Europe, Russia, China, and Japan", 2009; "Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World", 1990; "Endangered wildlife and plants of the world", 2001; Bearhop, 2007; Howard and Moore, 1980; Khan, 2010; Lee, et al., 2011; Lei and Chan, 2012; Young, 2010)

Communication and Perception

Baikal teals, as with most ducks, communicate with quacks. Females of most dabbling ducks, including Baikal teals, quack in what is called "decrescendo calls". These are so named because they typically decrease in volume with succession. Males communicate, especially during breeding season, with a low, throaty "wot-wot-wot grunt." The pair-mating displays of dabbling ducks tend to be elaborate, but the males simply quack as they vertically stretch their necks, creating what is called a "burp." The females perform "nod swimming," swimming with their heads down and nodding quickly as they pass by the males. Male breeding plumage plays a role in the perception of mates. Because the females choose their mates, the plumage perception and communication of mating displays usually prevents hybridization, though many species of ducks can successfully interbreed. ("Animal Behavior", 1972; "Wildfowl", 2010; Johnsgard, 1968; Lei and Chan, 2012; Young, 2010)

Food Habits

Baikal teals feed mostly on grains and seeds, but also consumes small, usually aquatic, invertebrates such as water snails. The ducks tend to feed in agricultural fields in the night and remain on the water during the day, sleeping and feeding on algae and aquatic plants. ("Endangered wildlife and plants of the world", 2001; Lee, et al., 2011; Lei and Chan, 2012; Young, 2010)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods
  • mollusks
  • terrestrial worms
  • aquatic or marine worms
  • aquatic crustaceans
  • other marine invertebrates
  • Plant Foods
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • algae


Ducklings of Baikal teals may fall prey to small ground predators, such as common dogs, cats, and foxes. However, few, if any, ground-dwelling predators can catch an uninjured adult duck. Some winged predators, such as the peregrine falcon and some owls can prey upon the ducks, as well as water-dwelling predators such as the Chinese alligator. (Farrand and Weidensaul, 1990)

Ecosystem Roles

Baikal teals help keep insect pest populations in balance as they feed on them. They also feed on large numbers of fresh water crustaceans. The major parasites found in these birds are various species of roundworms that are found in the dabbling duck's aquatic prey. Species include Streptocara incognita, Streptocara crassicauda, Echinuria uncinata. These parasitic nematodes often may not reach the adult stage of their life cycle until they enter the avian hosts as eggs or larvae. (Atkinson, et al., 2008; Lee, et al., 2011; Lei and Chan, 2012; Young, 2010)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds
Commensal/Parasitic Species
  • nematode (Streptocara incognita)
  • nematode (Streptocara crassicauda)
  • nematode (Echinuria uncinata)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Baikal teals are considered to be among the most beautiful ducks in the world, and are hunted for their feathers, meat, and for sport. The ducks are also traded as pets for their ornamental value. ("Endangered wildlife and plants of the world", 2001; "Wild birds introduced or transplanted in North America", 1928; Lee, et al., 2011; Lei and Chan, 2012; Young, 2010)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known ways in which Baikal teals have a negative economic impact on humans.

Conservation Status

Baikal teals are not currently endangered, but is classified as vulnerable. In the 1980s and 1990s these ducks were in decline and became rare due to over-hunting. Now, however, they are increasing in number every year because of greatly decreased trade and the decreased need for the use of the species as a major food source. Baikal teals are listed by the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) under Appendix II, meaning that though the species is not endangered, it could possibly become so if trade and exploitation is unregulated. ("Endangered wildlife and plants of the world", 2001; Lee, et al., 2011; Lei and Chan, 2012; Young, 2010)


Gavin Smith (author), Radford University, Karen Powers (editor), Radford University, Kiersten Newtoff (editor), Radford University, Melissa Whistleman (editor), Radford University, Laura Podzikowski (editor), Special Projects.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


a wetland area rich in accumulated plant material and with acidic soils surrounding a body of open water. Bogs have a flora dominated by sedges, heaths, and sphagnum.

brackish water

areas with salty water, usually in coastal marshes and estuaries.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


union of egg and spermatozoan


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.


mainly lives in water that is not salty.


an animal that mainly eats seeds


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


marshes are wetland areas often dominated by grasses and reeds.


makes seasonal movements between breeding and wintering grounds


eats mollusks, members of Phylum Mollusca


Having one mate at a time.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


specialized for swimming

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

pet trade

the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


a wetland area that may be permanently or intermittently covered in water, often dominated by woody vegetation.


uses touch to communicate


Coniferous or boreal forest, located in a band across northern North America, Europe, and Asia. This terrestrial biome also occurs at high elevations. Long, cold winters and short, wet summers. Few species of trees are present; these are primarily conifers that grow in dense stands with little undergrowth. Some deciduous trees also may be present.


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


Living on the ground.


A terrestrial biome with low, shrubby or mat-like vegetation found at extremely high latitudes or elevations, near the limit of plant growth. Soils usually subject to permafrost. Plant diversity is typically low and the growing season is short.


uses sight to communicate


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