The Intriguing Brown Teal: New Zealand’s Dabbling Dynamo


Meet pāteke the Brown teal (Anas chlorotis), a compact dabbling duck with a fascinating story. Once abundant throughout New Zealand, this interesting bird is now New Zealand’s rarest waterfowl species on the mainland.
Thankfully, the Brown teal’s story isn’t all doom and gloom. Conservation efforts are making a difference. With careful predator control and habitat restoration, these sprightly ducks are bouncing back in some areas.
Currently we have approx 2500 pāteke in the wild in NZ. There are 2 natural populations (Northland and Great Barrier) and 7 reintroduction sites.
The reintroduction sites stretch from Arthur valley in Fiordland to Purerua in Northland.

© Simon Fordham / Naturepix, Brown teal, pateke
© Simon Fordham / Naturepix

So imagine the surprise when a visiting birder found one at Travis on May 2nd.
This bird has attracted the attention of local birders and has produced a mystery of its own.
It has a metal band on it’s right leg.
Keen birders have been trying to decode this band unfortunately the band as currently deciphered doesn’t quite fit with known bird bands.
So currently we don’t know where it’s visiting from.
The mystery continues.
The pāteke is of course most welcome to stay and makes a nice addition to the Travis waterbirds.

Travis was part of a trial introduction of pāteke back in 2007.
On May 16 2007 20 Brown teal were released at Travis.
Story and images are here. https://traviswetland.org.nz/about-travis/events/brown-teal-release-may-16-2007/
It’s a link worth a look at just to see pics of trust members and rangers from 17 years ago.
The last time a pāteke from that release was seen was August 15 2013, 6 years after release.
During that time some birds paired up and at least one pair breed.

Brown teal, pateke
Brown teal, pateke

So how to find this pāteke ?
As mentioned earlier this omnivorous bird is nocturnal.
Because of this the earlier part or the latter part of the day are a better bet.
Look everywhere from the pond behind the info center round to the bird hide.
Have a look at these images and see how it looks with his Grey teal friends and a bit closer up.
Note the white eye ring.

Brown teal, pateke
Brown teal, pateke

For all information about Brown teal have a look at this website.
https://www.brownteal.com

So now we have a new critter to keep our eyes peeled for on our wanderings around Travis 🙂