Cinnamon Teal

Cinnamon Teal

Red teal, Red-breasted teal

Spatula cyanoptera
Population size
Life Span
12 yrs
80.5 km/h
400 g
41 cm
560 mm

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 habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

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.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Cinnamon teal are omnivores. They mainly eat plants, seeds and also consume mollusks and aquatic insects.

Mating Habits

varies with location
21-25 days
7 weeks
8-12 eggs

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.


Population threats

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.

Population number

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.

Ecological niche

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.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The Cinnamon teal is considered one of the most beautiful ducks in the Americas.
  • Cinnamon teal are very close relatives with Blue-winged teal and often interbreed with them.
  • In order to attract a female, male Cinnamon teal perform various courtship rituals. If the female is interested in the male, she will show this by swimming in front of him but if she doesn't accept the male she will pump her head or open her bill.
  • Female Cinnamon teal often hide their nests in very dense vegetation so that they are concealed from all sides; the birds then get to their nests through tunnels made in the vegetation.
  • When a female Cinnamon teal senses any danger she will protect the nest and her ducklings with a broken-wing display; this way she tries to distract a potential predator and lead it away from the nest.


1. Cinnamon Teal on Wikipedia -
2. Cinnamon Teal on The IUCN Red List site -

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