Red-billed Teal (Anas erythrorhyncha) are native to Africa, displaying a similar dark brown to black cap on their head as Hottentot Teal. Red-billed Teal can be differentiated by their bright reddish-pink bill and that their dark brown cap extends down their necks. The plumage on their cheeks is very light and can appear silver. The legs on this species are a dull gray to brown that matches their body’s plumage. This makes the contrast in the bright bill even more stark and easily identifiable from a distance. The plumage on their breast is a creamy white with light gray dappling that steadily changes into deep brown feathers that are outlined with tan or light brown on their backs. In flight, the light chest is a prominent feature as the wings are mostly brown. Males and females are similar in plumage with females being slightly smaller; and juveniles can be identified by their duller colors.
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Red-billed Teal are an abundant species that is often found foraging in fresh waters mainly for seeds and other vegetative matter in southern and eastern Africa. Preferred foraging waters are shallow and open wetlands, with some emergent vegetation. Foraging is done in both the water and on land, usually in pairs. Individuals return to land in the late afternoon or evening to continue foraging. This species is known to be gregarious at all times of year. These nomadic Teal prefer such a specific habitat that they will fly for hundreds of miles to find suitable areas during the breeding and non-breeding seasons.
Red-billed Teal typically nests on the ground in areas with ample wetland vegetation very close to a water source. Solely females incubate the eggs and family groups normally last up to three weeks after hatching. Chicks stay in the nest until they are completely dry and then make their way to the water. Juveniles typically have another four weeks after family groups break up before they can fly on their own.
RED-BILLED TEAL. Common throughout South Africa, red-billed teal prefer shallow water with aquatic vegetation. There’s no continental migration. Like most South African duck species, it’s nomadic and moves as needed to satisfy life-cycle requirements. Understated beauty: even when decoying in brilliant, low-hanging afternoon sunshine, it’s just a simple grey duck with lighter cheeks, flashes of tan secondaries. Reminds me of drab version white-cheeked pintails. But in hand: wow! Follow more duck hunting adventures in South Africa and worldwide on IG Stories @ramseyrussellgetducks.