Australian Bush Birds
Chestnut Teal  -  Anas castanea
Chestnut Teal pair
Pair of Chestnut Teals in north-west Tasmania, near Stanley. The male has a green head and chestnut breast. The female's feathers are edged with pale brown.
Chestnut Teal
Family of Chestnut Teals on Lake Tuggerah on the New South Wales Central Coast.
map map The Chestnut Teal - Anas castanea - is a medium size bird (38 to 45 centimetres). Breeding males have a dark green head which is iridescent in sunlight; rich speckled chestnut collar, breast and under parts; brown back, white flank patch, grey-green legs, black tail. Normal shaped bill is short and blue-grey. Females and non-breeding males are dark brown above; each feather, except rump and tail is edged light brown. Crown is dark brown; face fawn. Throat and underside generally pale brown with a dark centre on each feather.

Chestnut Teal - page 2
The female closely resembles the Grey Teal (male and female); Grey Teals have a white throat, while female Chestnut Teals tend to have more grey.

In flight shows narrow white bars on the upper wing and white patch on the underwing. Fast in flight.

Commonly found in brackish coastal lagoons, saltwater estuaries and the lower reaches of mangrove-lined creeks around coastal southern Australia. Also in freshwater swamps inland and on the high mountains of southern tablelands. Abundant in Tasmania and common elsewhere in south-east Australia (between Spencer Gulf and Port Macquarie) and southern Western Australia (Albany to Esperance). Sometimes found further north and further inland in SE Australia. Rarely gather in large flocks containing hundreds of birds; most non-breeding flocks contain 10 to 20 birds cruising and feeding in surface water or resting on mud banks. This is a dabbling duck which feeds on the water's edge by upending, filtering the water surface or stripping seeds from plants. Diet in salt water habitats is mainly widgeon grass, sedge seed, molluscs and crustaceans and a few insects and worms. Feeds mostly at dusk and dawn.

Chestnut Teal Chestnut Teal
Chestnut Teal pairs; the male has a darker coloured head.
Chestnut Teal
Chestnut Teal family on Lake Tuggerah.
A mostly sedentary species which moves locally in response to changed water conditions and food supply; but juvenile birds have been recorded as moving at least 500 kilometres. The related Grey Teal is nomadic, often inland, but moves to the Chestnut Teal's coastal habitats in summer. Chestnut Teals gather in flocks on larger lakes and estuaries in Winter and autumn, dispersing in spring to breed.

Breeding takes place from July to January along the Victorian/South Australian coast. Males first gather in small groups to whistle and mill about to attract a mate. After a bond has been established the pair look for a nest site along the edge of brackish to fresh coastal swamps and estuaries. The nest is close to water and may be a scrape in the ground, in long grass, in rushes, in crevices in rocks or holes in trees; often on a small island. Usually seven to ten eggs are laid; close-grained and smooth; cream, elliptical, 52 by 37 millimetres. Enveloped in brown-grey down.

Chestnut Teal - page 3
Eggs are incubated by the female for 27 days unaided by the drake who remains nearby. Both parents feed the young which leave the nest after a day but are cared for by the parents until they can fly. Full adult plumage is gained after several moults over a year.

The Grey Teal is similar to the female of this species.