Conservation Education and Science
Animal Facts & Photos  
Previous      Next
Cape Teal
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Anas capensis
ORDER: Anseriformes
FAMILY: Anatidae
RANGE: East and South Africa
HABITAT: lakes, marshes and coastal lagoons
DIET: seeds, aquatic plants, insects, tadpoles and mollusks

The cape teal is a small, stocky, short-necked dabbling duck. It is predominately white with heavily spotted underparts and a rose-pink bill. Males and females look similar. Juveniles are much like the adults, except they have less clearly spotted underparts.

Usually found in pairs or small parties, except during molt gatherings, the birds tend to keep to themselves and spend much time loafing on banks of lakes and pools. Flight action is slower than most other dabbling ducks, but cape teals are agile and fast when well underway. Relatively silent away from the breeding grounds, the male has a nasal squeak, but in display utters clear rasping whistles. The female has a low quacking call, but is more vocal in display periods.

Cape teals have long-term pair bonding and breeding occurs throughout the year. The female chooses the ground nest site, usually under bushes and not far from water, and makes a leaf and grass nest, lined with down. She lays eight-to-10 eggs, all hatching at the same time after 24-to-26 days of incubation. Unlike most other duck species, the cape teal male helps the female incubate the eggs and care for the young, vigorously defending the youngsters against other birds, large or small. Since cape teal fathers help rear the babies, fewer of the offspring die. The chicks are able to fly in about eight weeks.