The Cinnamon teal is a small dabbling duck found in western North and South America. The adult male has a cinnamon-red head and body with a brown back, a red eye and a dark bill. The adult female has a mottled brown body, a pale brown head, brown eyes, and a grey bill. Male juveniles resemble a female but their eyes are red.
Cinnamon teal breed in the western United States and extreme southwestern Canada and are rare visitors to the east coast of the United States. They are migratory and most winter in northern South America and the Caribbean. Some winter in California and southwestern Arizona and two subspecies of Cinnamon teal reside within the Andes of South America. These birds inhabit freshwater wetlands including marshes, ponds, lakes, streams, and reservoirs.
Cinnamon teal are aquatic birds, but they also walk and run well on land. They are gregarious and live in small flocks. The birds also sleep and roost together very close to each other and the males remain alert while the female sleeps. Cinnamon teal are diurnal and like all dabbling ducks they feed mainly by upending on the water surface, or grazing, and only rarely diving. They sleep on water or dry areas near water. The rest time is spent sleeping, resting, swimming, preening, walking, or flying. Cinnamon teals are relatively quiet compared to other dabbling ducks, however, when needed the females will make loud quacks, and the males produce 'chuck' notes or nasal, whistling calls.
Cinnamon teals are serially monogamous and generally select new mates each year. Their breeding season varies with location. When the pair is formed the female starts to build the nest. The nest is a shallow depression in the ground, usually concealed in thick vegetation near water; it is lined with grass, vegetation, and down. The female lays 8-12 creamy-white eggs and incubates them for 21-25 days. Chicks are precocial and leave the nest soon after hatching. They follow the female to the water, where they feed themselves and hide by diving or seeking vegetation cover. Ducklings fledge at about 7 weeks of age and reach reproductive maturity at one year.
Cinnamon teal are common and widespread throughout their range and are not considered endangered. However, the population of these birds is declining, due to the loss of the wetland habitat and pollution.
According to Partners in Flight resource, the total population size of the Cinnamon teal is around 380,000 breeding birds. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are decreasing.
Cinnamon teal play an important role in their ecosystem. They eat various seeds and disperse them throughout their range; they also feed on aquatic vegetation and thus help to prevent its overgrowth. These birds consume mollusks and insects helping to control populations of these prey items. Cinnamon teals are also an important food source for local predators including coyotes, domestic cats and dogs, minks, raccoons, and skunks.