There are always many ducks puttering around Stanley Park in Vancouver ‒ so the flooded forests of South America don’t necessarily come to mind as a home for ducks as well. Not when it’s the home of exotic species such as jaguars, macaws and caimans. That’s why the ringed teal (Callonetta leucophrys) is such a novel animal to highlight for September’s “Staff Pick of the Month.”
Louise Ritchie usually works behind the scenes as the Vancouver Aquarium’s marketing manager. But she says sometimes, she grabs her breakfast in the morning and heads up to the Amazon free-flight gallery before her work day starts. She enjoys having the gallery to herself at this time of day, when visitors are just starting to trickle in.
Ringed teals have quite a large range, and are found in the open marshes, streams and flooded forests in countries including Bolivia, Brazil and Argentina. They are perching ducks, and use their relatively long toes and strong claws to hang on to tree branches. In the wild, they eat submerged plants so sometimes they’ll be found bobbing head-first at the surface of an Aquarium pond while grazing for food.
Louise thinks visitors often overlook these ducks when they are going through the Graham Amazon Gallery because they aren’t as brightly coloured as the other birds or as famous as the sloths. But she says, “They are really beautiful and they have a lot of personality, if you take the time to look for them.”
If you don’t see the ringed teals swimming in a pond, try crouching down and looking through the foliage. There, you may find “the beautiful duck with the white wing patches” (a rough translation of its Latin name ‒ Callonetta leucophrys).