Teal, Cape

Anas capensis

Adult length: 18 in. (44 – 48 cm); adult weight: 13.4 – 14.8 oz.(316 – 502 g); coloration: head, neck and underparts (including tail, tail-coverts, rump) pale grey with fine brown-black speckling on head and neck, larger markings on body; slight crest on nape; upperparts dark brown with reddish buff feather edges; wings dark grey-brown, darker primaries, metallic green/black secondaries with white tips and broad white tips to greater coverts: speculum green with white borders.








Angola, Botswana, Chad, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and a Vagrant to Cameroon, Ghana, Israel, Lesotho, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Malawi, and Swaziland


Shallow saline lakes, seasonal and permanent brackish or saline pools and vleis (a shallow seasonal or intermittent lake), rivers, seasonally flooded wetlands, farm dams, state reservoirs, coastal shorelines, estuaries, lagoons, and tidal mudflats

Life Expectancy

Averages 20 – 30 years

Sexual Maturity

About 1 year


In the wild, they eat aquatic plants and small crustaceans, invertebrates and amphibians; in the Zoo, they are fed a scientifically developed, commercially available waterfowl diet, lettuce, and insects.


IUCN – Least Concern; CITES Appendix III (Ghana)


This species is known to undertake considerable nomadic movements in response to changing water levels (many of its favored 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 molting season are recorded rarely, when some gatherings can be as large as 2,000. The species is diurnal, with most of its activity occurring between 7:00-9:00 a.m. and 1:00–5:00 p.m., although it may occasionally forage at night. 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 molt, and prefers to breed on bare and grassy pans. During the breeding season, females prefer to locate nests on islands where possible, although nest sites can be some distance from the water. The nest itself is a hollow scrape in the ground, well concealed amongst small trees, thorny bushes or aquatic vegetation. On average, 7 – 8 eggs are laid and are solely incubated by the female; after 26 – 30 days, the chicks hatch and are cared for by both parents. They fledge between 49 & 60 days, or in their 8th week. This is a generally quiet species, except during mating displays. The breeding male has a clear whistle, whereas the female has a feeble “quack”.


The most predominant difference between dabbling ducks and diving ducks are the size of the feet. Dabbling duck feet are generally smaller because they do not need the extra propulsion to dive for their forage. Another distinguishing characteristic is the way in which they take flight when spooked or are on the move. Dabbling ducks spring straight up from the water and diving ducks need to gain momentum to take off, so they must run across the water a short distance to gain flight.

Special Interests

The Cape teal is in the subfamily Anatinae, which is made up of the “dabbling ducks”. These species feed mainly at the surface rather than by diving. This group of ducks is so named because its members feed mainly on vegetable matter by upending on the water surface, or grazing, and only rarely dive. These are mostly gregarious ducks of freshwater or estuaries. These birds are strong fliers and northern species are highly migratory. Compared to other types of duck, their legs are placed more towards the center of their bodies. They walk well on land, and some species feed terrestrially. Other common names include: Cape widgeon, African Cape teal, Pink-billed duck, Pink-billed teal, Fahlente (German), Kapente (German), Sarcelle du Cap (French), and Cerceta del Cabo (Spanish).



The Cape teal is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies. This species is susceptible to avian botulism, especially when feeding on sewage and effluent ponds, so it 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. The species is highly valued and commonly shot, although there is no evidence that the hunting of this species currently poses a threat. This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion. The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion. The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion. For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern on IUCN database.

Jacksonville Zoo History

Cape Teal were part of the Jacksonville Zoo inventory from 1965 to 1980 and were then reacquired in 1995. The Jacksonville Zoo has successfully bred this species.


River Valley Aviary