Cape Teal (Anas capensis)

Cape Teal

[order] ANSERIFORMES | [family] Anatidae | [latin] Anas capensis | [authority] Gmelin, 1789 | [UK] Cape Teal | [FR] Sarcelle du Cap | [DE] Fahlente | [ES] Cerceta de El Cabo | [NL] Kaapse Taling


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Anas capensis AF c, sc, s


Anas is a genus of dabbling ducks. It includes mallards, wigeons, teals, pintails and shovelers in a number of subgenera. Some authorities prefer to elevate the subgenera to genus rank.[1] Indeed, as the moa-nalos are very close to this clade and may have evolved later than some of these lineages, it is rather the absence of a thorough review than lack of necessity that this genus is rather over-lumped. The phylogeny of this genus is one of the most confounded ones of all living birds. Research is hampered by the fact the radiation of the two major groups of Anas ? the teals and mallard groups ? took place in a very short time and fairly recently, roughly in the mid-late Pleistocene. Furthermore, hybridization may have long played a major role in Anas evolution, with within-subgenus hybrids regularly and between-subgenus hybrids not infrequently being fully fertile.[1] The relationships between species are much obscured by this fact, and mtDNA sequence data is of dubious value in resolving their relationships; on the other hand, nuclear DNA sequences evolve too slowly to resolve the phylogeny of the subgenus Anas for example. Some major clades can be discerned. For example, that the traditional subgenus Anas, the mallard group, forms a monophyletic (in the loose sense, i.e. non-holophyletic) group has never been seriously questioned by modern science and is as good as confirmed (but see below). On the other hand, the phylogeny of the teals is very confusing. For these reasons, the dabbling duck lineages more distantly related to mallard group (which includes the type species of Anas) than the wigeons should arguably be separated in their own genera. These would include the Baikal Teal, the Garganey, the spotted black-capped Punanetta group, and the shovelers and other blue-winged species. Whether the wigeons, which are very distinct in morphology and behavior, but much less so in mtDNA cytochrome b and NADH dehydrogenase subunit 2 sequences, should also be considered a distinct genus Mareca (including the Gadwall and Falcated Duck) is essentially the one remaining point of dispute as regards the question which taxa should remain in this genus and which ones should not.

Physical charateristics

The African Cape Teal are pale, mottled gray throughout, with distinctive pink bills and reddish eyes. The speculum is green and black, and is bordered broadly with white in front and behind. Differences in appearance between the sexes are minimal with females being slightly smaller, paler and less speckled and males may have undeveloped crests that can be heightened in times of

Listen to the sound of Cape Teal

[audio: Teal.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 66 cm wingspan max.: 77 cm
size min.: 44 cm size max.: 48 cm
incubation min.: 25 days incubation max.: 26 days
fledging min.: 53 days fledging max.: 60 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 5  
      eggs max.: 8  


Africa : Central, Southcentral, South


This species frequents shallow saline lakes, seasonal and permanent brackish or saline pools and vleis, rivers, seasonally flooded wetlands, farm dams, state reservoirs, coastal shorelines, estuaries, lagoons, tidal mudflats and wastewater treatment pools. In the East African Rift Valley it occurs from the lowlands up to 1,700 m on small, sheltered alkaline and brackish waters with little or no shoreline vegetation, moving to permanent alkaline waters when nearby temporal pools become dry. In the Western Cape of South Africa this species moves to deep, open waters on which to moult, and prefers to breed on bare and grassy pans.


Brood size is between seven to eight pale to deep cream colored eggs that are incubated by the female for 25 to 26 days. Cape Teal are one of the few species of dabbling ducks in which the male remains with the female and plays an active part in raising the young. Because both parents raise the ducklings, fewer offspring die. Cape Teal are good parents and will vigorously defend their young even against larger birds.

Feeding habits

It has an omnivorous diet, feeding on the stems, leaves and seeds of pondweeds, as well as aquatic insects, crustaceans and tadpoles

Video Cape Teal


copyright: Joe Anseeging


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
This species is susceptible to avian botulism, especially when feeding on sewage and effluent ponds, so may be threatened by future outbreaks of the disease. It is also potentially threatened by habitat loss through wetland destruction and degradation, for example Walvis Bay in Namibia (a key wetland site in southern Africa) is being degraded through changes in the flood regime due to road building, wetland reclamation for suburb and port development, and disturbance from tourism
Cape Teal status Least Concern


This species is known to undertake considerable nomadic movements in response to changing water levels (many of its favoured sites are ephemeral), and it is an irregular and opportunistic breeder, varying its time of breeding with rainfall. Throughout both breeding and non-breeding seasons the species is dispersed in single pairs or small flocks of 3-7 birds; large flocks in the moulting season are recorded rarely, when some gatherings can be as large as 2,000 strong. The species is diurnal, with most of its activity occurring between 0700-09007 and 1300-1700, although occasionally the species may also forage at night.

Distribution map

Cape Teal distribution range map

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