The cinnamon teal (Anas cyanopterra) is one of my favorite ducks. Unique to the West, this small duck does not form large flocks as some other duck species do. Usually I see it singly or in pairs and only occasionally do several birds forage and move together. I admire the cinnamon teal’s independence as well as its beautiful plumage.
The breeding male has a bright cinnamon head and body accented by red eyes. The female is a gray-brown all over and has black eyes. Although they are not visible in the picture, both sexes have powder blue upper wing patches with a narrow white border, easily visible during flight. Cinnamon teal have long bills. During the non-breeding season (eclipse) the males resemble the females in that they are gray-brown over the entire body, but the eyes remain red.
A resident of fresh water wetlands, including highly alkaline areas, the cinnamon teal feeds mostly on the surface or dabbles with its bill just under the water. Its diet includes seeds, aquatic vegetation, aquatic insects, snails and other small aquatic zooplankton.
This cinnamon teal pair was swimming in the Ash Creek Wildlife Area.