Photographing The Elusive Cinnamon Teal

Photographing The Elusive Cinnamon Teal

Sep 18, 2016, 2:27:16 PM Tech and Science

Perhaps the most elusive of the Teals and the hardest to photograph in the Pacific Northwest is the Cinnamon Teal. I have only ever encountered one or two of these ducks at a time, and they tend not to mingle with other duck species, either. A chance encounter with a breeding pair of Blue-Winged Teals at Burnaby Lake's Piper Spit on May 31, 2015, also produced a nice bonus of a Cinnamon Teal drake in spectacular breeding plumage.


marginally bigger than their cousins, the Blue-Winged Teals, these small dabbling ducks are the largest of the three Teal species who frequent the Pacific Northwest. © W.H. Sim, All Rights Reserved.


This is the closest I've come to photographing this beautiful russet-colored duck. As with many birds who visit Piper Spit, this unattached fellow did a cursory swim by the floating boardwalk, just to check out the humans and give me an opportunity to see it in greater detail. The bills of Cinnamon Teals are more elongated than those of their cousins, the Green-Winged and Blue-Winged Teals.


a closeup of the head shows the striking red eyes that no other North American Teal possesses. apparently it forages in much poorer lighting than other teals do. © W.H. Sim, All Rights Reserved.


You'll also notice, from both the above and below photos, that red isn't the only color on this drake; his bill is black, his legs are bright yellow, his back is brown and speckled black, and blue and green patches are found on his wing feathers. All in all, he's a rather colorful character. Females, on the other hand, resemble their Blue-Winged counterparts, and are a rather drab gray (or brown) by comparison.


whether nesting or feeding, these herbivores/insectivores are rarely seen near land. © W.H. Sim, All Rights Reserved.


Cinnamon Teals show up in the Western U.S., the mid-West U.S., as well as southern British Columbia and Alberta in the spring and summer to breed, but spend their winter vacation in the southern U.S., Central America, and South America (although some subspecies never leave their South American and Central American ranges). Learn more about the Cinnamon Teal by visiting its Cornell Lab of Ornithology profile here✍️


Published by Hui Sim

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