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]
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.
Heaviest adult female
Heaviest adult male
Lightest adult female
Lightest adult male
10 years 10 months
Longest distance travelled
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.
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.
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:
Chironomidae (non-biting midges)
Corixidae (water boatmen)
Ostracoda (seed shrimp)
Hydrophilidae (water scavenger beetles)
Xenopus (Platanna) tadpoles
Potamogeton pectinatus (Sago pondweed)
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
The Cape teal is not threatened, in fact it has benefited greatly
from human interference, specifically the introduction of sewerage ponds and
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.