Anas cyanopteracinnamon teal

Geographic Range

There are five subspecies of the Cinnamon Teal, all native to the New World. The only subspecies native to North America is the Northern Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera septentrionalium). The Northern Cinnamon Teal breeds in western North America from British Columbia south to California and winters in the south-western States and Mexico. The remainder of the subspecies are native to South America. The Argentine Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera cyanoptera) breeds from southern Peru south into Argentina and the Falkland Islands. The largest subspecies, the Andean Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera orinomus), is located in the high elevation areas of Peru, Bolivia and Chile. The smallest subspecies is the Tropical Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera tropica) from the lowlands of Columbia. The rarest subspecies, the Borrero's Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera borreroi) is located only in the highlands of Columbia.(Wescott, 1998)


The Cinnamon Teal prefers shallow ponds, marshes, and lakes with alkaline water, which are bordered by low herbaceous growth.

Also, the Cinnamon Teal tends to reside in basins that have extensively developed vegetation. Nesting is near water in perennial vegetation. The vegetation tends to be low and includes baltic rush, saltgrass, and spikerrush. Adults that have broods tend to reside in areas of seasonal and semipermanent wetlands that have plentiful emergent cover. (Gammonley, 1996)

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • lakes and ponds

Physical Description

The characteristics of the Cinnamon Teal vary depending on the age and sex of the bird. Although there are slight variations between different subspecies of A. cyanoptera, they tend to share common traits nonetheless. The color of the adult male's head, chest, and underside is generally purple-chestnut, and the abdomen is dark brown. The lower back and rear of the bird are greenish-brown, while the wing coverts are blue. There are variations in shoulder feather color between birds, ranging from yellow with a center stripe, to green with a center stripe.

The juvenile is similar in appearance to the adult female, having a green speculum with a white leading edge, and pale blue upper secondary coverts. The adult male's basic markings are similar to these, but he has red eyes and a brighter forewing. From the fall to the spring, the adult male has an alternate plumage. The head, neck, belly, and flanks are bright red, while the back is dark brown. Additionally, the male has black undertail coverts in the fall through spring time span. (Gammonley, 1996)

  • Range mass
    363 to 408 g
    12.79 to 14.38 oz
  • Average mass
    340 g
    11.98 oz
  • Average length
    41 cm
    16.14 in
  • Average wingspan
    19 cm
    7.48 in


Mating pair bonds are renewed each season, during the winter. Females attract the males by swimming in front of the desired mate. The reproductive behavior of males includes several behaviors intended to attract unpaired females, such as Preen-behind-wing, Preen-dorsally, Belly-preen, Preen-back-behind-wing, Repeated calls, Turning back of head, and Head-dip. If several males are competing for one female, drakes perfrom short flight displays. Actual copulation occurs on the water surface. The male and female both engage in head bobbing directed toward one another. Next, the female gets into a prone position and the male then gets behind the female and mounts while grasping the neck with his bill. After internal copulation, both the male and female bathe and preen. (Gammonley, 1996)

The Cinnamon Teal hen constructs a half-moon shaped nest out of plant stems and dead grass. Young birds are covered in down when they hatch, and leave the nest within 24 hours of hatching. Generally this is to travel with the hen to a nearby water source. The ducklings are able to feed themselves from the first day that they hatch. However, they remain under the care of the hen until fledging, which occurs after 7 weeks. As they get closer to fledging they range farther from the nest and the hen.

During the eighth week of development, the eyes of the drake become red. Sexual maturity is reached after one year, when a Cinnamon Teal is able to breed. (Vanderah, 1985)

  • Breeding season
  • Range eggs per season
    4 to 16
  • Average eggs per season
  • Average eggs per season
  • Range time to hatching
    21 to 25 days
  • Average fledging age
    49 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    1 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    1 years


The survival rates are not well known due to the fact that not many Cinnamon teal have been banded. The oldest Cinnamon Teal known in 1982 was 12 years 11 months of age. Although current survival rates are not well documented, an experiment from 1972 by Kozlik estimated that 29 percent of juveniles survived one year, and of these 46 percent survived to the second year. (Gammonley, 1996)


Cinnamon Teal are usually found in small flocks, comprising pairs of birds. During the spring migration the flocks increase in size, containing up to twenty birds. Migration in the spring occurs during March and April. Cinnamon Teal spend winters in the southwest U.S. and also in Mexico and South America. During breeding and migration the birds are usually observed in pairs or in groups of up to 20 ducks. Other species which they are found near include the Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, and Gadwall in North America, and Red Shoveler and Speckled Teal in South America. They tend to be the subordinate species during encounters.

Although the birds are basically aquatic animals, they are mobile on land and are able to walk or run around loafing areas on land. They are very agile in flight. The birds make sudden and sharp turns while flying low, and they take off to flight directly from water.

Cinnamon Teal preen both both on land and in water. They tend to preen more during the middle of the day than the morning or the evening.

Pairs tend to sleep or rest within one meter of one another, and the males often remain alert while the female sleeps. The sleeping sites are water or dry areas near the water, and resting time tends to be midday more than morning or evening. Generally, from the spring arrival to the incubation period the day is spent sleeping and loafing, with time also spent preening, swimming, walking, or flying.

Females consume more food than males, and males spend more time alert and involved in inter-and intra species interactions.

Until the third week of incubation, males make aggressive displays in order to protect their mates and desired waiting sites. Only the males are territorial. Dominance heirarchies are as follows: Paired birds dominate unpaired birds, and males dominate over females except during brood-rearing. (Gammonley, 1996)

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Generally, Cinnamon Teal feed in the shallow waters of marshes and lakes. They also dive for food, or get it from the shoreline. Cinnamon Teal dive for vascular rooted plants, or they eat arthropods from the bottom-aquatic bed.

From terrestrial surfaces, Cinnamon Teal eat flowers and fruits of grass-like vegetation. On the surface of the water, they feed on floating vascular plants. From the bottom and water column, they feed on a number of species, including various invertebrates and arthropods. (Vanderah, 1985)

Foods commonly eaten include: seeds, submergent plants, emergent plants, insects and mollusks.

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods
  • mollusks
  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • seeds, grains, and nuts


The Cinnamon Teal hens are very protective of their nests; when a predator is nearby the female creates a disturbance to draw attention away from the nest. It is most common for the nesting females to be killed by predators. The males protect the nest sites from predators but they tend to circle the area rather than spending time directly protecting the nest as the females do. (Gammonley, 1996)

Ecosystem Roles

The Cinnamon Teal is the victim of brood parasitism by other ducks (coots, mallards, redheads, and ruddy ducks), and it is also a brood parasite of other ducks itself.

Cinnamon teals disperse seeds while eating them. Because they eat aquatic vegetation they help to prevent overgrowth which hinders mobility of water animals. Finally, their predation on molluscs and insects helps to control those populations. Because Cinnamon Teal have many predators, they are important to the survival of many animals, including Coyotes and Coots. (Gammonley, 1996)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds
Species Used as Host
  • ducks (Anatidae)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

The Cinnamon Teal is known to be an extremely tasty species of duck, and is hunted for recreation. (LaTourette, 1999)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food
  • research and education

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known negative effects upon humans.

Conservation Status

The Cinnamon Teal is generally not under great pressure from hunting, as it migrates early in the fall and as a result it is not heavily harvested in the U.S. and Canada. Still, it is one of the least abundant ducks in North America. They receive competition from the Blue-winged Teal, which has a larger population. This may contribute to the limiting of the Cinnamon Teal's expansion of a breeding range in North America. However, the Cinnamon Teal seems to be better suited for wetlands in the West and has the highest concentration in this area. (Gammonley, 1996)

Other Comments

The Cinnamon Teal is a special duck in that it is considered one of the most beautiful ducks in the Americas. Additionally, it is considered one of the best tasting ducks to eat by many food critics.

Other interesting Cinnamon Teal Facts:

  • They are one of the smallest species of ducks, making them fast flyers
  • Their elusive flight patterns make it difficult for hunters to shoot them down
  • They fly in groups as one, synchronizing complicated flight patterns including sudden turns and dives

-They are so close genetically to the Blue-winged Teal that they will readily breed with them

-Paired males tend to have higher body protein content and more brilliant plumage than their Unpaired counterparts

(Hohman, Ankney, 1994)


Maya Cadwell (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



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 southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map


uses sound to communicate

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.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

dominance hierarchies

ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates


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.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body


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


Having one mate at a time.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

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


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


Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).

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.


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement


uses sight to communicate

young precocial

young are relatively well-developed when born


Gammonley, James H., 1996. Cinnamon Teal. The Birds of North America, 209: 1-19.

Hohman, William L., D. 1994. Body size and condition, age, plummage quality, and foods of prenesting male cinnamon teal in relation to pair status. Canadian Zoological Journal, 72: 2172-2175.

LaTourrette,Peter, 1999. "Cinnamon Teal (*Anas Cyanoptera*)" (On-line). Accessed March 20, 2002 at

Oakland Zoo, 1998. "The Cinnamon Teal" (On-line). Accessed March 20, 2002 at

Vanderah, G.C., 1985. "Cinnamon Teal- *Anas Cyanoptera*" (On-line). Accessed March 19, 2002 at