Red-billed Teal

Anas erythrorhyncha

Being a quite common inhabitant of our freshwater dams and pans (and sewerage ponds), the Red-billed Teal can be expected at any inland open water body in South Africa that provides emergent and submerged vegetation. They feed on grass, seeds, waterplants and aquatic invertebrates, mostly at night – by day they rest on the water or at its edge. Apart from South Africa, the species is widely distributed over the rest of southern, eastern and central Africa as well as Madagascar.

Red-billed Teals congregate in enormous flocks at times, especially during their annual month-long flightless moulting period, but are usually seen in pairs when breeding, which may occur throughout the year but mostly follows the rainy season, nesting in thick vegetation on dry land near temporary or permanent expanses of water. Clutches consist of 5-12 eggs, and are incubated for a month by the female only, the male by this stage having long abandoned the family. The chicks take to the wing for the first time about two months after hatching.

Adults grow to a length of about 46cm and both sexes weigh just over half a kilogram on average. The Red-billed Teal is listed as being of least concern by the IUCN.

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