Cape Teal

Cape Teal



COMMON NAME: Cape teal
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
ORDER: Anseriformes
FAMILY: Anatidae
GENUS SPECIES: Anas (duck) capensis (from the Cape)


DESCRIPTION: This is a small duck with pale, mottled gray feathers throughout its body and a with pink bill and reddish eyes.  The speculum is green and black and bordered with white.
FEMALE The female is slightly smaller, paler in color and less speckled than the male.
SIZE: Approximately 35 cm (14 in.)
WEIGHT: 316-502 g (11-18 oz)
DIET: Includes water plants, plankton, crustaceans, and tadpoles
INCUBATION: 25-26 days
CLUTCH SIZE 7-8 eggs
SEXUAL MATURITY: Approximately 1-2 years
LIFE SPAN: Averages 20-30 years
RANGE: Southern Africa
HABITAT: Found in or near shallow lakes and marshes in open country, lagoons, estuaries, and tidal flats
STATUS: IUCN Not listed
CITES Appendix III
USFWS Not listed


1. Cape teal are one of the few species of dabbling ducks that actually dive. They are capable of swimming underwater with their wings closed like other true diving ducks. Normally, dabbling ducks dive with their wings open.
2. These ducks have tooth like serrations around their bill, which scientists think means filter feeding is important to this species.
3. Teals are not very vocal, but males do emit a high-pitched whistle and the female responds with a nasal quack.
4. Cape teals are known to perform what is referred to as 'nod swimming' during courtship. It is a rapid scoot over the water surface in a semi-circle with the wings positioned so that the speculum is showing. However, during such a dance, at no time does the duck ever actually nod.
5. Many ducks have high mortality rates during the egg and duckling stage, but because both parents raise the teal ducklings, fewer offspring die. Cape teal are good parents and will often aggressively defend their young against larger birds.


Cape teal are not endangered. In fact, the population is most likely increasing due to new dams, reservoirs, and irrigation projects. They are commonly hunted for food by both animals and humans.


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Gotch, A.F. Birds - Their Latin Names Explained. UK. Blandford Books Ltd., 1981.

Johnsgard, P. Ducks, Geese, and Swans of the World. Lincoln. Univ. Of Neb. Press, 1978.

Scott, P. A Coloured Key of the Wildfowl of the World. Slimbridge, England. The Wildfowl Trust. 1988.

Todd, F.S. Natural History of Waterfowl. San Diego, Ca. Ibis Publishing Co., 1996.