The ringed teal is a small duck from South America that feeds on aquatic plants, invertebrates, and seeds. These ducks are thought of as “dabblers” and not “divers” like many other ducks. Dabblers prefer to eat plant and insect material near the water’s surface, whereas divers find food deeper under the water.
Males and females look different in this species, called sexual dimorphism (di = “two”, morph = “shape”). The males have a blue beak, greyish-brown face, and a black stripe down their head. Their breast is salmon coloured and they have pale grey flanks. The females have an olive-brownish back, with a little white on their head, and white barring on their chest. Both have dark tails, pale rumps, and a white spot on their wing.
They breed in Northwest Argentina and Paraguay. To court a female, the male swims around her in a figure 8 pattern, preens her, and shows off the iridescent green feathers he has. They mate in the water! Nests are built in tree cavities and lined with down feathers. The female lays 6-12 white eggs which are incubated for approximately 29 days. Both parents help defend the nest, and raise the chicks. Chicks are precocial when hatched. They spend a lot of time with their parents while they fledge for about 50-55 days. The chicks rub on their parents, getting the essential oils they need to waterproof their feathers. The chicks work together, learning how to forage, swim efficiently, and avoid predators.
Ringed teals are considered Least Concern on the IUCN Red List due to their stable population.