Two Populations

Cinnamon Teal

I always think of cinnamon teal (Spatula cyanoptera) as spring waterfowl. It is a bird of western North America, breeding in wetlands from southern British Columbia and Alberta through western United States to the highlands of western Mexico and wintering in central and southern California and north and central Mexico.

During breeding season, male cinnamon teal have rusty-colored plumage that is striking when hit by the sun at the perfect angle. After breeding the males molt and look like the mottled brown females and immatures of this species. It is only in the spring that I can easily pick out the male cinnamon teal and his mate.

There is also a breeding population of cinnamon teal in western South America separate from the North American population. There is only one subspecies of cinnamon teal in North America. Four subspecies occur in South America – two endemic to Columbia and two ranging from Peru southward through the Andes.

This cinnamon teal pair was photographed in the Lower Klamath Wildlife Refuge near Tulelake CA (Siskiyou County).

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