Grey Teal

A Grey Teal swimming on the surface of a pond
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Scientific Name: Anas gibberfrons

Size: 40 to 48 cm

What does it look like?

The Grey Teal is almost all grey-brown. Each feather of the body is edged with buff, except on the rump. The chin and throat are white, the bill is dark blue grey and the eye is red. The secondary wing feathers are glossy black (with a blue sheen) above, tipped with white, and have broad white bases. In flight these white bases form a horizontal white stripe, which becomes narrower towards the body.

The Grey Teal is hard to identify from the female Chestnut Teal, A. castanea. The Chestnut Teal has a pale brown chin and throat, instead of white. The male Chestnut Teal is quite different in plumage, being mostly chestnut below, dark brown above and with a glossed green head and neck. The two species do overlap in range and often mix together where they meet.

Where is it found?

Occurs in suitable habitat throughout Australia.

What are its habitats & habits?

Common in sheltered fresh, brackish and salt wateres habitats, and the birds can be seen on the smallest area of water in the driest of areas. The most favoured habitat type is timbered pools and river systems of the inland areas. In these areas, the species are seen in quite large numbers. During periods of drought, the birds move to coastal areas.

Grey Teals feed in small to large flocks. Food consists of a variety of types and includes dry land plants, aquatic plants, seeds, crustaceans, and insects and their larvae. Feeding methods are also varied. Birds may dabble (filter surface water or mud through the bill), upend and feed from the bottom, or graze from the surface of the water on plant material.

Grey Teals may breed at any time of the year, when there is available food and waterways are suitable. Due to this opportunistic breeding style, birds lay soon after suitable conditions arrive and may raise several broods, while the conditions are favourable. If conditions are not suitable, birds may not breed at all in a year.

Most breeding takes place around inland waterways, and nests may be placed on the ground, in rabbit burrows or in tree hollows. The 4 to 14, normally about 8, eggs are laid on the bare floor of the nest site, and are covered with down (feathers).

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This species features in my book Australia’s Birdwatching Megaspots

Front cover of Australia's Birdwatching Megaspots book showing a picture of an Eastern Spinebill

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