Teal and grey 2018

Anas gracilis

When it comes to spectacular movements, the Grey Teal is unsurpassed by any other Australian waterfowl. Responding to rainfall, or lack of it, they cover vast distances in search of suitable water, and occur on every type of wetland. When the water dries up, they disperse to look for more, turning up almost anywhere, including at waterholes in the desert. These extensive travels have also taken some Grey Teal beyond Australia's shores to Indonesia, New Guinea and New Zealand, and even to subantarctic Macquarie Island.



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 green and the eye is red. The secondary wing feathers have glossy blue-black patch, broadly bordered and tipped with white. In flight, a large white wedge is visible on the underwing. The Grey Teal is one of the smaller Australian ducks (males are larger than females). Both sexes are similar in plumage.

Similar Species

The Grey Teal is sometimes confused with the female Chestnut Teal,A. castanea. The Chestnut Teal has the chin and throat pale brown, 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 overlap in range and often mix together where they meet.



Grey Teals are found throughout Australia


Grey Teals are common in all sheltered watered areas. These include fresh, brackish and salt water, and the birds can be found 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, where these birds can be found in quite large numbers.



Grey Teals feed in small to large flocks. Food consists of a variety of types and includes dry land plants, teal 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 when there is available food and waterways are suitable. Taking advantage of this opportunistic breeding style, birds lay soon after suitable conditions arrive and may raise several broods while the conditions remain 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 birds normally lay their eggs on the bare floor of the nest site, which are then covered with down (feathers).

Conservation Status

















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