Cape Teal

African Cape Teal are small, attractive ducks

South Africa BirdlifeThe Cape Teal {Anas capensis}

The African Cape Teal (also known as Cape Wigeons) are small, attractive ducks that are a 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 slight. Females are slightly smaller, paler and less speckled and males may have undeveloped crests, heightened in times of excitement.

Cape Teal are seen in single pairs or small flocks of 3-7 birds; large flocks in the moulting season are recorded rarely.

Quick Facts


Height is about 35-46 cm.
Weight range is 316-500 gms when fully grown.


Shallow lakes, marshes in open country, lagoons, estuaries and tidal flats. Cape Teal favour brackish vleis often with dense reeds. They are found in sewerage ponds, estuaries and in farm and state dams.


Most numerous in the drier regions throughout South Africa, with its highest population in the Western Cape, North-West and Free State Provinces.


They feed on plant and animal material that includes water plants, plankton, crustaceans and tadpoles. These birds have tooth-like projections bordering the bill, which suggests that filter feeding may be important to this species.


Cape Teal are primarily a nocturnal species usually keeping to themselves in pairs or small flocks, and spend much of their time ashore. Monogamous birds, several courtship behaviors are unique to the Cape Teal such as plenty of preening, bob-swimming, which is a rapid scooting over the water surface in a semi-circle, with the wings positioned so that the speculum is showing. Both sexes display this same behavior and it is often done simultaneously by the courting couple.


Cape Teal breed throughout the year, but most often between March and May. Nest sites are generally located in dense vegetation to conceal it from predators. The pale to deep cream colored eggs are incubated by the female for 26 to 30 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 so fewer offspring die. Cape Teal are good parents and will vigorously defend their young even against larger birds.


The eggs (usually 4-13 eggs are laid) are incubated by the female for about 25 days and fledge at 6 weeks.

Life Expectancy

Estimated at 10-20 years.


Eagle Owls and Marsh-harriers.


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