NORTHERN PINTAIL

NORTHERN PINTAIL (Anas acuta)

The Northern pintail is a rather large dabbling duck at around 70 cm (30 in.) long, including the tail, which is long and narrow for the male (hence the duck’s name). The male has an almost black head with a white breast and mostly grey plumage elsewhere. The white extends from the breast as a stripe up the neck, and the bill is black and light blue. The female is mostly brown with white stripes. Both sexes have a long neck which helps in identification of the female especially.

The northern pintail feeds on shallow water bottom vegetation by up-ending, and also on insects and crustaceans. They nest in open country, which makes the eggs and young vulnerable to predators.

The northern pintail is common on PEI, where it breeds and also winters. This bird is widespread in the whole northern hemisphere actually, and it migrates to Mexico, southern Europe, Asia and northern Africa for the winter. The northern pintail is susceptible to various diseases or parasites and is also a favorite game bird because of its taste. In spite of a significant population decline in North America in the last few decades, it is still listed as a species of ‘least concern’.

Northern pintail pair. Onda river, Naruse, Machida, Tokyo.
Northern pintail pair. Onda river, Naruse, Machida, Tokyo.
Northern pintail on the Onda river, Naruse, Machida, Tokyo, Japan. Note the finely striated plumage on the back.

Northern pintail on the Onda river, Naruse, Machida, Tokyo, Japan. Note the finely striated plumage on the back.
Northern Pintails - Oysterbed Bridge, PEI - Jan. 1, 2016
Northern Pintails – Oysterbed Bridge, PEI – Jan. 1, 2016 – Roberta Palmer

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