Wednesday, April 15, 2009

At the pond... Cinnamon Teal

Cinnamon TealCinnamon Teal, Jackson Bottom Wetlands, Hillsboro, Oregon on 30 May 2008 by Greg Gillson.


The aptly named male Cinnamon Teal is a beautiful little duck in breeding plumage. In flight, the upperwing has a broad pale blue leading edge and green speculum (flight feathers on the inner wing). The male has a distinctive red eye. The brown mottled female, on the other hand, is extremely similar to the female Blue-winged Teal.

Male ducks molt into a cryptic "eclipse" plumage resembling the female from July to September. They will be flightless for a few weeks as they molt all their flight feathers at once, thus the need for this camouflaged plumage.

Interestingly, the Cinnamon Teal is the only duck with breeding populations in both North and South America. The North American population breeds in the West from southern British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, south through California, extreme western Texas and into northern Mexico. In winter, birds withdraw from the frozen northern areas and extend well into Mexico.

Cinnamon Teal nest in marshes and shallow ponds throughout the Pacific Northwest. They are generally rare in the mountains and along the immediate coastline. A few birds may winter west of the Cascades in Oregon and Washington, and west of the Sierra-Nevadas of northern California. Migrant birds arrive by March, with some birds as early as January along the coast. In the Great Basin, birds arrive in April and May, where they become common in the marshlands of the high desert.

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