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Cinnamon teal

Spatula cyanoptera (Anas cyanoptera)

Kaneeltaling / Zimtente / Sarcelle Canelle


Spatula cyanoptera (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) was previously placed in the genus Anas.


There are five subspecies of this little duck, all native to the New World. The only subspecies native to North America is the Northern Cinnamon Teal (Spatula cyanoptera septentrionalium), which breeds in western North America from British Columbia south to California and winters in the south western States and Mexico. This is the most commonly kept Cinnamon Teal. All of the remaining subspecies are native to South America. The Argentine Cinnamon Teal (Spatula cyanoptera cyanoptera) breeds from southern Peru south into Argentina and the Falkland Islands. The largest race, the Andean Cinnamon Teal (Spatula cyanoptera orinomus), can be found in the high plateaus of Peru, Bolivia and Chile. The smallest is the Tropical Cinnamon Teal (Spatula cyanoptera  tropica) from the lowlands of Columbia and the rarest subspecies, the Borrero's Cinnamon Teal (Spatula cyanoptera borreroi) is restriced to the highlands of Columbia.
All of the above subspecies are similar in appearance, with the obvious size exceptions. The Tropical Cinnamon is also much more spotted than the others. I believe that the Argentine is the only other subspecies that is kept in captivity.
The (northern) drake's breeding plumage is deep chestnut red over most of the head and body. The wing is blue, similar to the Blue-winged teal (Spatula discors) with a green speculum. The bill is black; feet and legs orange-yellow. Hens are very similar to Blue-wing hens, but are slightly darker. If you keep both species, be sure to mark them (bands) so you won't confuse the two species, as they will readily breed with one another.
The Norhern Cinnamon Teal is not hard to keep and breed in aviaries. The breeding season begins in late April when the hens begin to lay their clutch of 9 to 11 eggs in dense cover. Incubation lasts about 25 days and are quite small and delicate, but easy to care for. First year birds are able to breed.
Cinnamon Teal are hardy and good birds for the beginner, but the drakes can become very aggressive and troublesome during the breeding season. Only keep in a mixed collection with other large species, such as the Mandarin (Aix galericulata) or Wood Duck (Aix sponsa). They do require some shelter during the colder months. Other general care the same as the Blue-winged teal (Spatula discors).


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern (IUCN, 2012).



Usually placed in Anas like most dabbling ducks, it stands well apart from such species as the mallard and together with the shovelers and their relatives forms a "blue-winged" group that may warrant separation as genus Spatula (del Hoyo and Collar 2014).



Above: adult male Cinnamon teal



Above: adult female Cinnamon teal



Above: adult male Cinnamon teal



Above: adult Cinnamon teals



Above: Cinnamon teal duckling

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