Red-billed Teal (Anas erythrorhyncha)

It is a small duck with whitish cheeks, a conspicuous chocolate brown cap, and a pinkish-red bill where it got its name. This bird prefers foraging in freshwater bodies, with plant matter and seeds forming the bulk of its diet. During its flight, light brownish yellow wings stand out opposing its all-brown toned wings.

Read further to know more about the Red-billed Teal.

What is a Red-billed Teal?

Red-billed Teal (Anas erythrorhyncha) or Red-billed Duck is a paddling duck and a widespread resident breeder in eastern and southern Africa. It is a highly gregarious species, aggregating in large flocks outside the breeding season. While it is not migratory, it can travel great distances in search of preferable waters.

Its seven levels of classification are as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Anseriformes

Family: Anatidae

Genus: Anas

Species: A. erythrorhyncha

Red-billed Teal Physical Description

Red-billed Teals have dark brown upperparts, accentuated by a scaly effect due to its dull buff feather borders. Its light brownish yellow to orange secondary feathers stand out when it is in flight, while a subtle-toned wing speculum or wing patch can also be observed.

The birds’ underparts are brown but duller compared to the upperparts, with wide whitish fringes. Underwings are murky gray-brown, with lighter rear edges.

Head has a chocolate brown cap, from the forehead down to nape, contrasting its whitish to dull buff cheeks. Their bill is of a pinkish-red tone with a black stripe in its center. Legs and webbed feet are also black while the eyes are dark brown.

Red-billed Teals are monomorphic, which means both sexes look similar. However, females are relatively smaller than the males and with a paler bill. Offsprings also look like the adults, but with a streaked chest rather than mottled, and a lighter bill.

Where can they be spotted?

Red-billed Teals thrives in freshwater wetlands, lakes, streams, ponds with shallow water, and emergent vegetation. They are non-migratory but will follow water levels as it fluctuates during different African seasons. That means they can travel great distances in search of preferable habitat.

Interesting Facts You Should Know About the Red-billed Teal

Red-billed Teals primarily feed on aquatic plants and invertebrates, usually foraging in pairs or in a small flock at night. They feed by dipping and dabbling their head under the water surface, and up-ending their entire body to reach deeper food items. When it does, only the tail and vent can be seen above the water surface.

These ducks are highly gregarious and will aggregate in large flocks consisting of thousands of birds at their favored sites towards the wet season’s climax. While it is sedentary, it may perform dispersion due to changes in water levels.

Red-billed Teals breeds during the summer months, though, may vary depending again on water levels. Typically, the breeding period begins after the rainy season.

Pairs can last a long time, but rarely. The nest is built on a shallow depression and lined with grass, hidden among dense vegetation near water. The female will lay a clutch of 5 to 12 eggs, which she will incubate for about 25 to 28 days. The male will sometimes help the female guard the broods. Chicks will fledge about two months after hatching.

Red-billed Teals are common and widespread throughout their range. They are one of the bird species under the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA). These birds are evaluated as Least Concern (LC) under the IUCN Red List.



Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Chobe National Park

Linyanti Swamp

Makgadikgadi Pan

Mashatu Game Reserve

Okavango Delta

Moremi Game Reserve



Addo Elephant National Park

Cape Peninsula National Park

Hluhluwe Game Reserves

Kalahari Gemsbok National Park

Knysna Lagoon

Kruger National Park

Madikwe Game Reserve

St Lucia Wetlands


Caprivi Region


Etosha National Park

Namib-Naukluft National Park

Skeleton Coast



Lechwe Plains

Lower Zambezi

South Luangwa

Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park




Lake Kariba

Mana Pools

Matobo Hills

Victoria Falls


Redbilled Teal