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Cinnamon Teal

Latin: Anas cyanoptera
Average length: M 16", F 15"
Average weight: M 0.7 lbs., F 0.8 lbs.

Description: Male cinnamon teal have a cinnamon-red head, neck, breast and belly. They have an iridescent green speculum, which is separated from a bluish shoulder patch by a white stripe. The back, rump, uppertail coverts and tail are a dull brown and the undertail coverts are black. They have a distinctive red eye, a black bill and yellow legs and feet. The male gives a thin whistled "peep" or "peer." Female cinnamon teal are often confused with female blue-winged teal. They have a duller blue shoulder patch, an overall rustier color and are more heavily streaked. Female cinnamon teal have a somewhat more guttural quacking than female blue-winged teal.

Breeding: The majority of cinnamon teal breed in the western United States near the Great Salt Lake, Malheur Basin, San Luis Valley and Cariboo-Chilcotin parklands. They prefer small, shallow alkaline wetlands surrounded by low herbaceous cover. Nests are often located in grassy areas and island nesting is common. Female cinnamon teal lay an average of 8-10 eggs.

Migrating and Wintering: Nearly all cinnamon teal winter in Mexico and Central America. During migration the Great Salt Lake marshes and the Central Valley of California are important staging areas. Cinnamon teal are commonly sighted in the Midwest and eastern United States, and are often associated with a flock of blue-winged teal, most likely attaching themselves to the flock on their mutual breeding grounds. Cinnamon teal are common winter visitors to Central America; resident (two endemic subspecies) and occasional winter visitors in Colombia and Venezuela. They are common and widespread in the Andes from central Peru southwards, and in southern Chile and most of Argentina (Scott and Carbonell, 1986).

Population: A. c. cyanoptera (SE Neotropics) 25,000-100,000; A. c. orinomus (SW Neotropics) 10,000-100,000; A. c. septentrianalium (Central America) 300,000; A.c. tropica (Low Colombia) <10,000; A. c. borreroi (High Colombia) <250 (Rose and Scott, 1994). Hybridization with blue-winged teal has been recorded, and recent blue-winged teal population expansion into cinnamon teal breeding areas is cause for some concern.

Food habits: Cinnamon teal dabble on aquatic plants in shallow water areas, especially rush seeds, pondweed seeds and leaves and salt grass seeds. They also feed on animal food, especially aquatic insects and mollusks.

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