14" long, by 5-1/2" wide, by 5" high
many ways, the striking Cinnamon Teal is similar to the Blue-winged
Teal and the Northern Shoveler, intermediate in size and overlapping
habitat. The male Cinnamon Teal in breeding plumage is one of
the most striking of Washington’s waterfowl, with a deep,
overall cinnamon color and red eyes. Females, juveniles, and
males in eclipse plumage are mottled brown and look very similar
to the closely related female Blue-winged Teal. However the Cinnamon
Teal is slightly larger and has a longer, wider bill. Both sexes
have green-black speculums with pale blue patches on the forewing.
Teal are found in small, shallow, freshwater wetlands with emergent
Teal forage in shallow water, swimming forward with their heads
partly submerged and filtering mud through their bills. These
birds sometimes follow each other, taking advantage of food stirred
up by the first bird. They occasionally feed on land near water.
Cinnamon Teal, like most dabblers, form pairs before arriving
on the breeding grounds.
plant seeds and invertebrates make up the majority of the Cinnamon
Teal’s diet. The invertebrates become more important in
the spring and summer, when breeding females and growing young
need a high-protein diet.
nest is typically located close to water where it is concealed
in dense cover. It is a shallow depression with dead grass and
weeds, lined with down. The female selects the site, builds the
nest, and incubates 9 to 10 eggs for 21 to 25 days without the
help of the male. The male stays at the breeding area during
most of the incubation, however, and may guard the female. Shortly
after the young hatch, they leave the nest for the water and
find their own food. The male Cinnamon Teal has occasionally
been seen with the female and her young brood, an occurrence
unusual in ducks. The female (occasionally with the help of the
male) continues to tend the young until they fledge at about
7 weeks of age.
Cinnamon Teal is highly migratory, beginning its fall migration
early, peaking in August and September. It is rare on the breeding
grounds by November. The spring migration begins in late March,
but doesn’t peak until late April into May. The molt migration
for males, from the breeding grounds to the sites where they
gather and molt, typically occurs in mid-July, before the birds
head south again.
Cinnamon Teal is a western species. It is more limited in range
than most North American dabbling ducks and as such, is one of
the least abundant of this group, with an estimated population
of about 300,000 birds. Its limited range and early fall migration
protect it from high levels of hunting, and numbers appear to
be stable. In the past century, however, we have changed the
landscape in such a way as to favor the Blue-winged Teal in some
areas at the expense of the Cinnamon Teal. This may become a
matter of concern if this trend continues.