Anas capensis (Cape teal)

Teeleend [Afrikaans]; iDada (generic term for duck) [Zulu]; Siwoyo (generic term for duck) [Kwangali]; Sehudi (generic term for duck) [Tswana]; Kaapse taling [Dutch]; Canard du Cap [French]; Kapente [German]; Marreco do Cabo [Portuguese]

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Anas capensis (Cape teal) Anas capensis (Cape teal)

Cape teal, Strandfontein Sewerage Works, Western Cape, South Africa. [photo Duncan Robertson ]

Cape teal, Strandfontein Sewerage Works, Western Cape, South Africa. [photo Duncan Robertson ]

The Cape teal is found mostly in South Africa, where it is especially abundant in the Western Cape. It prefers to live in salty, brackish vleis, often with dense reeds, and is also very common in sewerage ponds. It is nomadic, although it rarely moves more than 250 km. It feeds mainly on insects, with about a quarter of its diet dedicated to plant matter. The female builds the nest, which is a shallow bowl in the ground, filled with aquatic vegetation and feathers. It lays 4-13 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female, for 26-30 days. The chicks, once dry, are immediately led by their mother to the water, as they know how to dive and swim by instinct. They remain with their mother for about 56 days, after which they start to become independent.

Records

Heaviest adult female to do
Heaviest adult male to do
Lightest adult female to do
Lightest adult male to do
Longest living 10 years 10 months
Longest distance travelled 2171 km

Distribution and habitat

Found mostly in and around South Africa, where it is uncommon to locally abundant, being especially populous in the Western Cape, North-West Province and Free State Province. It prefers to live in salty, brackish vleis, often with dense reeds. It is also commonly found in sewerage ponds, estuaries and farm or state dams.

Distribution of Cape teal in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project ( Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Call

 
   

Female recorded by June Stannard, Swartkops, 1966, [ Transvaal Museum]

 

Movements

Nomadic, rarely going on long journeys across southern Africa. It usually lives in permanent wetlands, moving to temporary pans to breed. It does not usually fly long distances, as out of one survey, 2691 birds were ringed, and of the 271 ringed birds recovered years later only 9 moved more than 250km.

Predators and parasites

  • Predators
  • Parasites
    • feather lice
      • Anatoecus dentatus
      • Anatoecus icterodes
      • Anaticola crassicornis
      • Holomenopon acutae
      • Trinoton querquedulae

Food

It feeds mainly on invertebrates, with about a quarter of its diet plant matter. It normally feeds at 07h00-09h00 and 15h00-17h00, by filtering on the surface, or with the head and neck submerged. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Animals
    • insects
      • Chironomidae (non-biting midges)
      • Corixidae (water boatmen)
      • Ostracoda (seed shrimp)
      • Hydrophilidae (water scavenger beetles)
      • Copepoda (copepods)
    • amphibians
      • Xenopus (Platanna) tadpoles
  • Plant matter
    • Potamogeton pectinatus (Sago pondweed)

Breeding

  • Monogamous, solitary nester, although nests can be very close together. Courtship is very elaborate, involving mutual preening, strange calls and swimming in circles with wings raised. Forced copulation is regularly recorded.
  • The female builds the nest, which is a 10-16 cm wide bowl, 6 cm deep. It is usually made of aquatic plant leaves and stems, lined with down and contour feathers, usually placed on reed-filled islands.
  • Laying dates are extremely variable, as they are opportunistic breeders, only starting after heavy rains.
  • It lays 4-13 eggs, in successive mornings.
  • Incubation is done solely by the female, for 26-30 days. She will sometimes leave the nest for 1-2 hours to bathe and preen, leaving the eggs untended.
  • The chicks, once dry, are immediately led by their mother to the water, as they know how to dive and swim by instinct. The mother protects them from hostile attacks, by making alarm calls, and pretending to be injured while the ducklings dash for cover. They remain with their mother for about 56 days, after which they start to become independent.

Threats

The Cape teal is not threatened, in fact it has benefited greatly from human interference, specifically the introduction of sewerage ponds and dams.

References

  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 

 
 

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