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< > Anas chlorotis - Brown teal (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Brown duck
New Zealand teal
New Zealand brown teal
Grünohrente (German)
Sarcelle brune (French)
Sarcelle de la Nouvelle Zálande (French)
Cerceta Maorí (Spanish)
Anas aucklandica chlorotis - New Zealand brown teal/ New Zealand teal

Names for newly-hatched

Duckling, downy.

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases


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Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B1, B3, B5, B7, B8, B19, B19-Suppl., B25.

Aviculture references:
J23.13.w6, J23.13.w7,
B7, B29, B30, B40, B94, B128.w1
D1, D8

Other References

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques


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Aviculture Information


General Information:
  • Dabbling Ducks are generally hardy, easy to maintain and easy to breed. Shelter may be required by some of the smaller species in winter. They should be provided with cover (including marginal pond cover) and loafing areas as well as water. A pen which is 50% water is suggested. The water may be shallow (i.e. no more than two feet deep is required), and muddy areas for dabbling in are also appreciated. These ducks are generally good in mixed collections, although the smaller and quieter species may be bullied. Territorial disputes between ducks of the same species may be avoided by keeping only one pair of each species in an enclosure, unless the area is very large. For a single pair of ducks a pen are of 50 to 100 square metres, depending on the size of duck, should be provided.
  • A diet based on wheat and pellets is suggested, with maintenance pellets changed to breeders pellets for the breeding season. Bread and greenfood are also appreciated. Grit should always be available, with soluble grit (e.g. oystershell grit) as a calcium source when breeding.
  • Most species are ground nesters and both close ground cover and ground level nest boxes should be provided. Hand-rearing is generally preferred, as these ducks are generally poor parents in captive conditions, particularly in enclosures shared with other waterfowl. These ducks are prone to hybridization, particularly with closely related species, which should be kept apart from one another.

(B7, B29, B30, B40, B94, B128.w1, D1)

Species-specific information:

  • Brown teal are very territorial and aggressive during the breeding season, attacking other birds, even species larger than themselves, although not geese or swans.
  • The best breeding results have resulted if birds have been allowed to choose their own mates; pair bonds are strong once formed. Pairs should be isolated in small enclosures with abundant ground-level vegetation to provide concealed nesting sites near water, also a choice of ground-level and raised nest boxes should be provided. Fully covered aviaries, allowing fully-flighted birds, are recommended, and a pond, a muddy area for dabbling and perching platforms should also be provided.
  • Eggs may be left with parents or incubated by a foster (e.g. Anas platyrhynchos - Mallard or Anas superciliosa - Pacific black duck) or in an artificial incubator. They may re-lay if the clutch is removed, even laying several clutches; may also re-lay if allowed to hatch and rear but ducklings removed when about three-quarters grown. 

(J7.33.w5, J23.13.w6, J23.13.w7, B29)

Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme recommended average ring size: L 11.0mm (D8).

Management Techniques

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length (Average including Anas aucklandica - Flightless teal)17-19 inches, 43-48cm (B3); 36-48cm (B1)
Adult weight General 375-700g (Average including Anas aucklandica - Flightless teal) (B1).
Male 615-730g, average 665g (B3); mean 1.5 lbs. (B8).
Female 530-700g, average 600g (B3); mean 1.3 lbs. (B8).
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Adult Bill Male Blue-grey with dark culmen stripe. (B3, B5, B25).
Variations (If present) --
Eyes (Iris) Male Dark brown (B25).
Variations(If present) --
Juvenile Bill Blue-grey (B3, B5, B25).
Eyes (Iris) Dark brown (B25).

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Adult Male Dark grey (B25).
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Dark grey (B25).

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Adult Male Head and neck dark brown, sides glossed green, narrow white eye-ring, often narrow white collar base of neck. Breast deep chestnut with black spotting, shading to abdomen buff-brown; flanks vermiculated dark brown and buff, upperparts, rump, tail and uppertail coverts dark brown with paler feather edges, undertail coverts blackish, sides of ventral region white. Wing dark brown, greater coverts rusty-buff tips, secondaries green-glossed black, narrowly white-tipped (B8, B25).
Variations (If present) Female:- Similar to male but duller, plumage all dark brown with paler feather edges. No green gloss on head, narrower white eye-ring, no white neck-ring; wing similar to male (B5, B8, B25).

Eclipse:- Similar to female, but with whitish patch on sides of ventral region.

N.B. Many males remain in duller plumage all year, without showing brighter breeding plumage (B1, B5, B7, B25).

Juvenile Similar to female; male may have dark spots on breast and whitish patches on sides of ventral region (B5, B25).

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Upperparts dark brown with faint buff markings, underparts buff, face brown, streaked (B1, B5, B7).
Bill: Grey (B5, B7).
Feet: Grey (B5, B7).

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Reproductive Season

Time of year Mainly June to October, peak July and August (B1); July to December (B3).
No. of Clutches One or two (B8).

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Nest placement and structure

On dry ground, usually near creeks or other water, hidden in vegetation, a cup of grasses, lined with down (B1, B3, B25).

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 5-6 (B8).
Range 4-8 (B8).
Egg Description Dark cream, cream-brown to cream-tan (B3, B5, B8); size: 58x43mm; weight: 62g (B3).

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27-30 days (B3, B8); 29-30 days (B1).

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50-55 days in captivity (B1); about 50-70 days (B8).

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Sexual Maturity

Males Presumed one year old (Anas standard).
Females Presumed one year old (Anas standard).

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Feeding Behaviour

Adults Dabble and probe for invertebrates in very shallow water, up-end and dive in deeper water, probe on grassy fields at night (B3).
Newly-hatched --

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building By female (B8).
Incubation By female (B3, B8).
Newly-hatched Reared in aggressively-defended territories by both parents; if double-clutch, male may tend ducklings alone white female incubates second clutch of eggs (B8).

Pairs lead unfledged broods down watercourses to communal roost areas by late spring or early summer (B7, B8).

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Highly aggressive during the breeding season, fight to defend territories, but gregarious outside breeding season, gathering in flocks of a few hundred birds at communal roosts (B5, B7, B8).
Inter-specific Aggressive even to larger birds such as Tadorna variegata - Paradise shelduck and Cygnus atratus - Black swan (B8).

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Sexual Behaviour

Strong, persistent pair bonds, possibly life-long, may separate in flocks after breeding season but bonds renewed during autumn (B3, B8).

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Predation in Wild

Introduced ferrets, stoats, cats, rats (B8).

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Activity Patterns

Seek shade and hide in vegetation during the day (B5, B8).
Circadian Mainly nocturnal, feeding dusk and night, with foraging on tidal mud in day and night depending on tidal rhythms (B5, B8, B25).

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Natural Diet


Mainly aquatic invertebrates (B1).

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)


New Zealand: scattered populations on South and North Islands, mainly northern North Island and south-western South Island (Fiordland), Great Barrier Island and Stewart Island. Formerly widespread through New Zealand (B1, B8, B19).

Occasional and Accidental




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Tree-shaded swampy streams, pools, marshes, tidal creeks, mud flats, coastal waters in sheltered bays; slow or still waters preferred (B1, B3, B8, B25).

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Intraspecific variation

Often considered a subspecies of Anas aucklandica - Flightless teal, thus Anas aucklandica chlorotis - New Zealand Brown Teal. Also sometimes previously considered as a subspecies of Anas castanea - Chestnut Teal (B1).

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -

Highly endangered, with huge declines in population (B1, B8, B25, B44.9.w1)

CITES listing CITES II (as part of Anas aucklandica - Flightless teal)
Red-data book listing --
Threats Introduced predators, also habitat loss due to trampling of wetlands by livestock (cattle etc.) (B8)

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Captive Populations

Small numbers in captive breeding programmes (B8).

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