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A photo of a Red-billed Teal (Anas erythrorhyncha)
Red-billed Teal

Red-billed Teal

Anas erythrorhyncha

The Red-billed Teal, known scientifically as Anas erythrorhyncha, is a medium-sized dabbling duck. It measures 43–48 centimeters in length and is adorned with a blackish cap and nape, which strikingly contrasts with its pale face. The bird's most distinctive feature is its bright red bill. Its body plumage is a rather subdued dark brown, delicately scalloped with white. When in flight, one can observe that the secondary flight feathers are buff-colored with a prominent black stripe.

Identification Tips

Both sexes of the Red-billed Teal are similar in appearance, with juveniles presenting a slightly duller version of the adults' plumage. To identify this species, look for the combination of the red bill, pale face, and the unique pattern on the secondary flight feathers during flight.

Habitat

The Red-billed Teal favors freshwater habitats within relatively open landscapes. It is commonly found in areas that provide dense vegetation near water, which is essential for nesting.

Distribution

This species is an abundant resident breeder in southern and eastern Africa, typically found south of 10° S latitude. While not migratory, the Red-billed Teal is known to travel considerable distances in search of suitable waters.

Behaviour

Outside of the breeding season, the Red-billed Teal is highly gregarious, forming large flocks. It is an omnivore, feeding by dabbling for plant food or foraging on land, often during the evening or at night.

Song & Calls

The Red-billed Teal is generally a quiet bird. However, during display, the male emits a 'whzzt' call, while the female produces a soft, mallard-like quack.

Breeding

Nesting occurs on the ground amidst dense vegetation close to water bodies. This strategic choice of nesting site provides protection and proximity to essential resources.

Similar Species

While there are no subspecies of the Red-billed Teal, birdwatchers should be aware of other teal species in the region which may have some overlapping features but lack the red bill and specific flight feather patterning.

Diet and Feeding

As an omnivore, the Red-billed Teal's diet includes a variety of plant materials. It typically feeds by dabbling in the water or foraging on land, with a preference for feeding in the later hours of the day or at night.

Conservation status

The Red-billed Teal is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. It is also one of the species protected under the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA).

Red-billed Teal Sounds


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