March 14, 2016

Dunes in Flight: the Cinnamon teal

cinnamon teal bannerCommon name: Cinnamon teal

Scientific name: Anas cyanoptera

Family: Anatidae (ducks, geese, swans)


The Cinnamon teal is a small, brightly colored duck common throughout the American west. The adult males have a cinnamon colored head, a red body, and dark back and tail feathers. On the front of their wings are light blue patches visible in flight, hence the name cyanoptera (cyan wing). Their bright cinnamon coloration is complimented by a piercing set of red eyes. During the non-breeding season, males revert to grayish brown coloration. Females are gray-brown, and also bear a light blue wing patch.

The cinnamon teal can be found in seasonal and semi-permanent wetlands of various sizes. Their diet consists mainly of seeds and aquatic vegetation, aquatic and semi-terrestrial insects, snails, and zooplankton. They construct their nests as a small depression on the ground near a water source. Females often place her nest strategically to be concealed from every angle. They move in and out using small tunnels in the surrounding vegetation.

IMG_2819The cinnamon teal feeds at the surface by what is known as “dabbling.” The bird dunks its bill, or its entire head, into the water and searches for food using its bill to feel for food. Like many other ducks, the cinnamon teal is equipped with small comb-like structures called lamellae that act as sieves – trapping food in the bill while letting water escape.

The cinnamon teal is a frequent visitor and seasonal resident of Oso Flaco Lake and other freshwater lakes in the dunes.


Our newsletter keeps you up to date with the latest information about our exhibits, upcoming events, and programs.

© Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center. All rights reserved.