CINNAMON TEAL  Anas cyanopteraAnas cyanoptera

Cinnamon Teal, among the smaller North American dabbling ducks, rely heavily on seeds and other vegetable matter. Breeding females supplement this diet with invertebrates, especially insects and snails, for the protein and calcium needed for egg production. These teal are usually found in small flocks and migrate earlier than other North American dabbling ducks (Gammonley 1996).

DISTRIBUTION. During the 1987-1992 field work seasons of the TBBA project, observers found 58 breeding sites for Cinnamon Teal, mostly in the High Plains and western Trans-Pecos regions (see the region map in Lockwood and Freeman [2004]). Latilong 34102 had  2 confirmed, 6 probable and 3 possible sites; 35101 had  1 confirmed, 3 probables and 6 possibles;  33101 had 4 probables and 4 possibles; 34101 had 3 probables and 3 possibles and 36101 had 5 probables while other latilongs had 3 or less records.

Data from 4 North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) routes had an annual average of <1 teal per route in the Panhandle and Big Bend areas of this state (Sauer et al. 2007). Atlasers in Oklahoma found a probable breeding record in that state’s panhandle (Versaw 2004).

Elsewhere Cinnamon Teal breed in wetlands from southern British Columbia and Alberta south through the western United States, northern Baja California and the highlands of western Mexico to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Most of these Cinnamon Teal winter in central and southern California and northern and central Mexico (Howell and Webb 1995, Gammonley 1996). Another population is resident in western South America (Gammonley 1996, Am. Ornithol. Union 1998).

SEASONAL OCCURRENCE. Cinnamon Teal are uncommon and somewhat local winter residents along the Texas coast  from early September to late May. Pre-1937 egg collection date extend from April 27 to July 10 with small young seen in August. Males and females whose nests failed migrate first, usually in  late summer with other females and young following in early fall (Oberholser 1974, Gammonley 1996, Lockwood and Freeman 2004).

BREEDING HABITAT. Cinnamon Teal breed in Texas to about 1200 m (4000 ft)  in shallow, sluggish, tule-lined streams, ponds, marshes and reservoirs (Oberholser 1974). In Arizona, atlasers found 78% of breeding evidence in marshlands, ponds and lake edges with emergent vegetation (Wise-Gervais 2005). In Colorado the two most common habitats were described as open-water lakes (44%) and emergent wetlands and marshes (34%; Keunning 1998). Dense cover, 30-38 cm (12-15 in) high may be the most important variable determining the nest site (Harrison 1979, Gammonley 1996).

The female scrapes a shallow hollow amid vegetation which conceals the nest on all sides and from above and lines the bowl with dead grass and other vegetation (see photo in Harrison [1979]).. During egg laying and early incubation she adds down feathers. The outside diameter is about 18.4 cm (7,6 in), inside diameter 12.4 cm (5 in) and  cup depth 5 cm (2 in). In this hollow the female lays about 10 (range 4-16)  smooth off-white to pale buff eggs, usually one per day. The female incubates the eggs for 21-25 days. After hatching the young leave the nest as soon as their down dries. The young spend much of the day gleaning food, such as insects, from the water. They can fly after about 7 weeks. Brood parasitism by other ducks affects as many as 25% of nests in some areas  Pairs raise 1 brood per seasom  (Gammonley 1996).

STATUS. Oberholser (1974) reported only 4 confirmed nestings of Cinnamon Teal in Texas, none later than 1937.  Lockwood and Freeman (2004) describe this duck as a local summer resident in the Panhandle and South Plains. The BBS map (Sauer et al. 2007) indicates the Panhandle is at the east edge of the breeding range of this species.  The breeding evidence found by the TBBA project suggests breeding conditions for Cinnamon Teal were more favorable in the Panhandle in 1987-1992 than in the mid-1900s.

Text by Robert C. Tweit (2008)

Texas Breeding Bird Atlas map

Literature cited.

American Ornithologists’ Union. 1998. Checklist of North American birds, 7th ed. Am, Ornithol. Union, Washington, DC.

Gammonley, J. H. 1996. Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera). InThe birds of North America, No. 209 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Harrison, H. H. 1979. A field guide to western birds’ nests. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, MA.

Howell, S. N. G. and S. Webb. 1995. A guide to the birds of Mexico and northern Central America. Oxford University Press, New York.

Kuenning, R. R. 1998. Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera). In Colorado breeding bird atlas, pp. 80-81 (H. E. Kingery, ed.), Colorado Bird Atlas Partnership, Denver.

Lockwood, M. W. and B. Freeman. 2004. The TOS handbook of Texas birds. Texas A&M University Press, College Station.

Oberholser, H. C. 1974. The bird life of Texas. University of Texas Press, Austin.

Sauer, J. R., J. E. Hines, and J. Fallon. 2007. The North American breeding bird survey, results and analysis 1966-2006. Version 7.23.2007. USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel MD <>

Versaw, A. E. 2004. Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera). In Oklahoma breeding bird atlas, pp. 72-73 (D. L. Reinking, ed.). University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.

Wise-Gervais, C. 2005. Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera). In Arizona breeding bird atlas. pp. 62-63 (T. E. Corman and C. Wise-Gervais, eds.), University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, NM.

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