Cape teal

Cape Teal

Scientific Classification

Common Name
Cape teal
Genus Species
Anas (duck) capensis (from the Cape)

Fast Facts

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.
The female is slightly smaller, paler in color and less speckled than the male.
Approximately 35 cm (14 in.)
316 to 502 g (11 to 18 oz.)
Omnivorous diet, feeding on the stems, leaves and seeds of pondweeds, as well as aquatic insects, crustaceans and tadpoles
25 to 26 days; females prefer to locate nests on islands where possible, although nest sites can be some distance from the water. The nest itself is a hollow scrape in the ground, well concealed among small trees, thorny bushes or aquatic vegetation.
Clutch Size
7 to 8 eggs
Fledging Duration
6 weeks
Sexual Maturity
Approximately 1 to 2 years
Life Span
Averages 20 to 30 years
The Cape teal has an extremely large range and can be found in Angola; Botswana; Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe
This species can be found around shallow saline lakes, seasonal and permanent brackish or saline pools, rivers, seasonally flooded wetlands, farm dams, state reservoirs, coastal shorelines, estuaries, lagoons, tidal mudflats and wastewater treatment pools.
Global: the total population is very large with at least 10,000 mature individuals. The population appears to be increasing and is not severely fragmented.
IUCN: Least concern
CITES: Appendix III
USFWS:  Not listed

Fun Facts

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.

These ducks have tooth like serrations around their bill, which scientists think means filter feeding is important to this species.

Teals are not very vocal, but males do emit a high-pitched whistle and the female responds with a nasal quack.

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.

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.

Ecology and Conservation

Cape teal are not endangered. 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.

The Cape teal is potentially threatened by habitat loss through wetland destruction and degradation, changes in the flood regime due to road building, wetland reclamation for suburb and port development, and disturbance from tourism.


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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.

BirdLife International. 2016. Anas capensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22680145A92846056. Downloaded on 20 November 2018.

Photo Credit: Kapente_schwimmend_Ausschnitt.jpg. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Image by: BS Thurner Hof. Year Created: 2005. Website: