Brown Teals

Brown Teals (Anas chlorotis)

The Brown Teals (Anas chlorotis) or New Zealand Teal or Pāteke (Māori name) is a dabbling duck.

Group of Brown Teals Floating in the Water
Group of Brown Teals Floating in the Water

It was formerly considered to be conspecific (same species) with the flightless Auckland Island and Campbell Island Teals and the name “Brown Teal” was applied to that entire taxon. The Brown Teal has since been split, but the name Brown Teal is still more common than New Zealand Teal for this bird.

Distribution / Status

As suggested by its common name, it is native to New Zealand. It was once widespread on New Zealand mainland, but became extinct there due to predation by introduced mammals, such as dogs, cats and rats.

They now live on offshore islands. However, less than 1,000 adult birds still remain.

Brown Teal Looking Back
Brown Teal Looking Back

Diet / Feeding

Like its relatives, it feeds by dabbling and upending (feeding upside down in water).

Its diet consists mainly of aquatic invertebrates such as insects and their larvae, or crustaceans. It favors mollusks. Small species and large wedge shells are eaten whole and crushed in the gizzard. For feeding on larger cockles, some New Zealand Teals have developed a peculiar technique, undocumented in other birds. They force their rather soft bills between the cockle shells and tear out the flesh with a jackhammer-like pumping motion.

At night, Brown Teals forage on land some distance from the streams used as a refuge during the day (Worthy 2002).


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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